Published on 01/28/2013

Raining Rats and Frogs

or, Crashing Some Gates

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Be our guest!
Welcome to Return to Ravnica Part II: The Electric Boogaloo, better known as Gatecrash. To round out the party from RTR, we've got the Boros punching, the Orzhov extorting, the Gruul grueling, the Simic mimicking, and, of course, the Dimir doing whatever they want. Just like my RTR prerelease article, this one has four questions per guild and two colorless ones. Look, WotC, I can do cycles too!

Also just like Return, the next five weeks will feature one guild each week, with Moko taking the helm for his true guild, Gruul, and a special guest for Simic. Stay tuned to see what we cook up for those.

Of course, a new set brings tons of new questions when you mix it in with old cards, not to mention new confusion all unto itself. Send all of your questions our way and we can help, and your question may even appear in a future article! You can find us on Twitter at @CranialTweet, or email .

Take a few minutes to read over this article and the Gatecrash FAQ document to see if your question's already been answered, though, for knowledge is truly power.

Q: When I cast a spell with extort, does it trigger itself right away?

A: Like all abilities that aren't otherwise noted or obvious, extort only functions while it's on the battlefield. It won't be there when you cast it, so a spell can never trigger its own extort ability.

Q: Can I play Thrull Parasite in a mono-black Commander deck?

A: Yup - while extort means that the creature has an ability that uses a hybrid mana symbol, you don't expand such abilities into their full text when checking color identity. That's a new consideration, since it's never come up before; after you consider that, then the old "ignore reminder text" rule kicks in and Thrull Parasite's color identity is solidly black.

Q: If High Priest of Penance is blocked by five creatures, do I get to blow up five permanents?

A: Only one - the damage from all five creatures is dealt simultaneously, and the High Priest's trigger condition is on being dealt damage rather than "a source" or "a creature" dealing damage (which would cause multiple triggers). The number of things dealing damage and the amount dealt aren't relevant for its ability.

Q: If Immortal Servitude brings back two Court Street Denizens, will I get to tap two creatures?

A: You sure do. Creatures entering the battlefield simultaneously see each other entering for any triggers that care, and each Denizen will let the other tap a creature.

"I could pretend to
be Szadek if you want..."
Q: What happens if I encode a spell on Dimir Keyrune when it stops being a creature?

A: It stays encoded, since nothing in the encode rules says it cares about whether or not the encoded object remains a creature. Sitting there lurking, biding its time until it's reanimated and can make some copies!

Q: If I use Snapcaster Mage to give Hands of Binding flashback, can I encode it?

A: Flashback says that the card is exiled instead of going anywhere else. Well, hey there, cipher, you're exiling the spell. So flashback doesn't care about it one bit, and it lets cipher happily encode the spell onto a creature.

Q: Will Lazav, Dimir Mastermind copy a Dimir Keyrune that gets killed while being a creature?

A: It won't. Lazav's ability isn't a "leaves the battlefield" trigger that looks back in time; it triggers on a creature card hitting the graveyard from anywhere at all. Because of that, it only looks at the object after moving, at which point it is not a creature, even if it is a card.

Q: If Dinrova Horror bounces a token, can my opponent discard that token?

A: Nope! This one is kinda obvious when you stop to think about it, but it's subtle enough that people miss it without thinking: The token isn't a card. (Not to mention that tokens can never move out of any zone except the battlefield, but that's beside the point here, really.)

Simic fashion is ineffable.
Q: If Feed the Pack puts three 2/2 tokens onto the battlefield simultaneously while I control a counterless Simic Fluxmage, can I resolve one trigger, move the counter to a second Wolf, then resolve the trigger for the third Wolf, and then resolve the last one to get three +1/+1 counters out of the deal?

A: You can do that. Evolve's intervening "if" clause means that the trigger condition (having a higher power and/or toughness) must be true both as the entering-the-battlefield happens and as the trigger resolves, but it can be false for as long as you'd like in between those two events.

To go over the process again: Since the Fluxmage is 1/2, evolve triggers three times. For Wolf A, you resolve the trigger and it gets a counter. Now move the counter to Wolf C and resolve Wolf B's evolve trigger. Fluxmage is 1/2 again, so it gets another counter. Now resolve Wolf C's evolve trigger, and Fluxmage is 2/3 while the Wolf is 3/3. Fluxmage gets yet another counter!

Q: Does Cloudfin Raptor get a +1/+1 counter if it has one already and Adaptive Automaton enters the battlefield choosing Bird?

A: Nope, you'll have to make do with little bird. Remember the magical order of processing entering the battlefield: apply replacement effects, then apply continuous effects, and then check for triggers. You choose Bird for the Automaton as it enters (replacement effect), then Cloudfin Raptor gets +1/+1 (continuous effect) and then you check evolve (trigger). Since 2/3 isn't smaller on either side than 2/2, you won't get an evolve trigger at all.

Q: Since Zameck Guildmage says that creatures enter with an additional counter, does that mean it has no effect on creatures that don't enter with a counter at all?

A: "An additional" means "more than it would otherwise," and if it's not getting any counters normally, it'll get 0+1 counters for a grand total of one counter. Normally having counters isn't a requirement.

Q: If Mystic Genesis counters Killing Wave for 3, do I get a 4/4 or 1/1 Ooze?

A: It'll be 4/4. The only time that isn't evaluated as 0 for converted mana cost is when is on a spell on the stack, in which case you evaluate it as the value chosen for X.

Gruul are very simple.
So simple, in fact, that this section
was very hard to write.
Q: Can I counter bloodrush?

A: Sure, but not with any cards in Standard. Bloodrush is an activated ability, not a spell, so Cancel won't help you here. You'll need Stifle or something - possibly an Azorius Guildmage if you reach back into Ravnica's past.

Q: With Linvala, Keeper of Silence out, can I still activate bloodrush?

A: You can! Linvala only stops activated abilities of creatures, and creatures only exist on the battlefield. Everywhere else, they're creature cards, and Linvala doesn't do anything about activated abilities of creature cards. You can still bloodrush through her.

Q: Why does Signal the Clans have such a weird wording?

A: Because Signal the Clans has a criterion on its search ("creature cards"), you can fail to find three cards. If it said "Search your library for three creature cards with different names and put one at random into your hand," you could find a single card and get it every time, which is not what the designers wanted. As it is, you either find three cards with different names and get one at random, or you get no cards at all.

Q: Does my opponent get to know which of the random creatures I got with Signal the Clans?

A: He does. All three cards are revealed when you choose one at random and when you put it into your hand, and the other two cards stop being revealed as you shuffle them with the rest of your library.

Bad hair days lead to fury.
Q: Can I attack with Geist of Saint Traft and one creature with battalion to get the battalion trigger?

A: Nope! You only attacked with Geist and your creature with battalion. The Angel token was created attacking, but you never attacked with it. When cards look for what "you attacked" with, it only looks at the declaration of attackers in the combat step, as opposed to cards that care about "attacking creatures," which look at all of those creatures that are currently, through whatever means, attacking.

Q: Can I block before Firemane Avenger burns up my creature?

A: Your creature's going to die without blocking. Battalion triggers will always resolve in the declare attackers step, before the game moves on to the declare blockers step; there's no way to just skip ahead to declaring blockers.

Q: Can I use Aurelia's Fury like a counterspell?

A: Aurelia's Fury, like its good friend Silence, only stops spells from being cast once it has resolved. Spells can still be cast in response to it, and spells cast before it resolves are unaffected.

Q: Can I pair Aurelia, the Warleader with Deadeye Navigator for a whole lot of combat?

A: You'll get all the combat your mana base can provide. After coming back from a refreshing trip to exile, Aurelia will feel like a new Angel, because she will, in fact, be a new Angel. A brand new object with no relation to the one she used to be, with no memory of having attacked before, bright and eager to trigger again in your second combat phase to give you a third... and in your third to give you a fourth... and so on.

Accessorizes Rings of Brighthearth.
Q: If I have a Dark Depths, and I make Thespian's Stage into a copy of it, can I get a 20/20 Marit Lage token since the Stage-Depths triggered as soon as it saw it didn't have any counters on it?

A: Marit Lage is going to have to stay in the deep a while longer here. The general order in which things happen in Magic is: 1) check and apply any state-based actions, 2) see if any triggered abilities have triggered and need to go on the stack. So the Stage-Depths' trigger will go on the stack, but not before the legend rule has put it and the original Dark Depths into the graveyard. Which means that when the trigger resolves, it won't be around for you to sacrifice, and the "If you do..." portion of the ability won't let you have you a token.

Q: We don't want to wait for Dragon's Maze - we want to mix all the guilds together now. Can we do that for FNM drafts?

A: Unless the event has a very specific fact sheet, you can use any mix of product for Limited formats. Grand Prix Trials have strict requirements; FNMs do not! As long as everyone receives the same product, you can run something awesome like alternating two packs each of Return and Gatecrash!

That's all for this week, but come back next week when Carsten breaks out a big bowl of punch.

Until next time, shadow hide you!

- 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 the first question, Carrionette is missing an "r".
#1 • Date: 2013-01-28 • Time: 05:10:46 •
So, to clarify the Flashback/Cipher question, since Cipher also exiles the card, Flashback sees no contradiction and allows the Encoding, correct?

Would it not also be a true statement that the caster finishes all instructions from the card being resolved (e.g. Ciphering after tapping) before Flashback checks for the card, but since the card was already exiled Flashback can't do anything about it anyway? Possibly akin to Flashbacking a Sun's Zenith?
#2 • Date: 2013-01-28 • Time: 08:16:38 •
If I'm not mistaken, since Cipher and Flashback want to put the card in the same place, it works out fine for Cipher. But Flashback's replacement will work first with conflicting replacements, like the Zeniths or with things like Memory Lapse and Venser, Shaper Savant.
#3 • Date: 2013-01-28 • Time: 10:02:47 •
Zitat (mattj13):
So, to clarify the Flashback/Cipher question, since Cipher also exiles the card, Flashback sees no contradiction and allows the Encoding, correct?

Would it not also be a true statement that the caster finishes all instructions from the card being resolved (e.g. Ciphering after tapping) before Flashback checks for the card, but since the card was already exiled Flashback can't do anything about it anyway? Possibly akin to Flashbacking a Sun's Zenith?

Not entirely true - flashback applies if it would try to go anywhere from the stack other than exile, so if you try to shuffle it in no a Zenith, even though Zeniths don't have a replacement effect, it gets exiled instead.
#4 • Date: 2013-01-28 • Time: 13:08:08 •
What have you done to me, Eli...

Welcoming Hymn of the Ghost Council of Orzhova

Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Put your service to our test!
Sign your soul away in contract
And escape eternal rest
Is it power?
Wealth you crave?
Have you purchased a thrull slave?
Try a grey one
It's real great
Then don't forget to pass the plate!
We extort and we haunt
Shiny bling we love to flaunt
All your sins you will on bended knee confess
Go on, affix our sigil
Through our guildgates big, you'll
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
#5 • Date: 2013-01-28 • Time: 13:22:21 •

Follow us @CranialTweet!

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

Follow our RSS feed!