Published on 02/04/2013

Fast and Furious

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Greetings! It's Monday, which means it's time for another issue of Cranial Insertion. This is the first issue after the release of Gatecrash, which means that we're kicking off our five-week series of issues focusing on each of the five guilds in Gatecrash. When Eli and James asked me which guild I would like to cover, I thought very carefully for about a nanosecond and then I picked Boros. White Weenie has always been my favorite deck archetype of all time, and the Boros Legion embodies this play style more than any other guild, so the decision was a no-brainer for me.

As always, if you have rules questions you'd like us to answer, please email them to or tweet them at @CranialTweet. One of our writers will answer directly and your question might even appear in a future issue.

Now, let's go ahead and visit the Boros Legion, where every joke has a punch-line!

Q: What happens if I give Illusionist's Bracers to Aurelia, the Warleader?

A: I imagine the Bracers will look nice on Aurelia, but they won't be very useful. The ability that gives you an additional combat phase is a triggered ability, which you can tell because the ability begins with "Whenever." Illusionist's Bracers only works for activated abilities, which you can recognize by being written in the form "[cost] : [effect]."

Q: Can I stop a miracle with Aurelia's Fury?

A: Yes, that works. While Aurelia's Fury won't counter a spell that has already been cast, you can prevent your opponent from casting spells in the future. With miracle, the card is cast during the resolution of a triggered ability, and you can respond to that ability to silence your opponent. When the miracle ability resolves, your opponent is suddenly unable to cast the card, so it stays in his hand.

Q: My opponent is attacking with an Alms Beast and I block it with a 4/4 Angel token. If I want to Smite the Alms Beast, do I have to do that right away or can I apply combat damage first to gain 4 life from lifelink?

A: You don't have to Smite the Beast right away. A blocked creature remains blocked until an effect makes it unblocked or until the combat phase is over, so the Alms Beast stays blocked even after your Angel has been stampeded to death.

Q: I control Boros Reckoner and my opponent casts Blasphemous Act. Does the Reckoner deal 3 or 13 damage with its ability?

A: It'll deal a whopping 13 damage! Blasphemous Act neither knows nor cares that 3 damage would be enough to kill Boros Reckoner. It deals the full 13 damage to Boros Reckoner, and then the Reckoner's ability deals "that much" damage, so 13 damage, back to the target creature or player that you choose.

Q: I attack with Boros Reckoner and my opponent blocks it with two 2/2 creatures. Do I get to deal 2 damage each to two different targets?

A: No, you'll deal 4 damage to one target. All combat damage is dealt at the same time, and while the two blockers are two distinct sources of damage, the Reckoner's ability doesn't differentiate between sources. The ability simply triggers once for all damage that's dealt to the Reckoner at one time, so you get one trigger for 4 damage.

Q: If my opponent blocks Boros Reckoner with Lotleth Troll and regenerates the Troll, can I kill it with Boros Reckoner's trigger?

A: Yes, that works. In the combat damage step, the Troll deals 2 damage to the Reckoner, which triggers the Reckoner's ability, and the Reckoner deals 3 damage to the Troll. State-based actions see that there's lethal damage marked on the Troll and try to destroy the Troll, which uses up the Troll's regeneration shield. Then, the Reckoner's ability goes on the stack and eventually it resolves, dealing 2 damage to the Troll. This is lethal damage, so the Troll is destroyed unless your opponent spends more mana to regenerate it again.

Q: Can I use Boros Charm to make a planeswalker indestructible?

A: You can, but that won't help it very much. Being indestructible will save it from effects that would try to destroy it, such as Dreadbore, but it won't prevent any damage that's dealt to it. Any damage that's dealt to your planeswalker still results in the planeswalker losing loyalty counters, and your planeswalker will still be put into your graveyard when it runs out of loyalty counters because that's not destruction.

Q: If I use Boros Charm to make my creatures indestructible and I play another creature later that turn, is it indestructible, too?

A: Yup! Boros Charm creates an effect that changes the rules of the game rather than changing the characteristics of objects. As such, the effect "permanents you control are indestructible this turn" applies to all permanents you control even if you didn't control them at the time the effect was created.

Q: What kind of keyword is battalion?

A: Strictly speaking it's not a keyword at all. It's an ability word. Ability words are labels that identify abilities that are similar to each other, but they have no rules meaning by themselves, which is why they're printed in italics like reminder text. In the case of battalion, all battalion abilities are triggered abilities that trigger when the creature with the ability and at least two other creatures attack.

Q: Can my opponent kill one of my attackers to stop battalion?

A: Nope. As soon as you attack with a battalion creature and two other creatures, the battalion trigger goes on the stack. The trigger doesn't check how many creatures are still attacking when it resolves, so killing one of the attackers doesn't stop the battalion trigger.

Q: Okay, but I've heard that the bonus for Goblin Piledriver gets smaller when an attacking Goblin is killed in response to that trigger. Is that true? How's that different from battalion?

A: Yes, that's true. The difference is that Goblin Piledriver's ability needs information from the game, namely how many Goblins are attacking, when the ability resolves so that it can create its effect. Such information is only determined once, when the ability resolves, so the effect can be influenced by removing an attacking Goblin before the ability resolves. In battalion's case, the number of attackers is part of the trigger condition, so it's only checked when the ability triggers.

Q: Does battalion trigger a second time if Aurelia, the Warleader gives me a second combat phase?

A: Yup! Like all triggered abilities, battalion triggers each time its trigger condition is met. There is no "once per turn" restriction in the ability, so it triggers multiple times if you can manage to attack with a battalion creature and two other creatures more than once.

Q: Let's say I control Aurelia, the Warleader and Firemane Avenger, and I attack with those two creatures. In the second combat phase I attack with both creatures again. Does Firemane Avenger's battalion ability trigger in the second combat phase?

A: No, that doesn't work. The battalion trigger doesn't look at how many creatures attacked that turn in total. It looks at each declaration of attackers separately, and neither attack met the trigger condition "Whenever Firemane Avenger and and at least two other creatures attack."

Q: If I attack with three battalion creatures, which battalion triggers go off?

A: All of them! Each battalion creature sees that it and two other creatures are attacking, so all three abilities trigger. There's no reason why any of them wouldn't trigger or why you'd have to choose only one of them to trigger.

Q: If I attack with Firemane Avenger and four other creatures, does its battalion ability trigger twice?

A: That would be useful, but it doesn't work like that. The trigger condition is "Whenever Firemane Avenger and at least two other creatures attack." As long as at least two other creatures attack, you get one trigger regardless of the actual number of attackers.

Q: How does battalion work in Two-Headed Giant?

A: It works pretty well! The trigger only checks how many creatures are attacking, not who controls them, so it will count your teammate's attackers. However, note that bonuses like the one from Legion Loyalist only apply to creatures you control, so they won't apply to your teammate's creatures.

Q: Can Gideon, Champion of Justice attack the turn he comes out if I turn him into a creature?

A: No, he can't. As soon as he becomes a creature, he becomes subject to the summoning sickness rule. Since you haven't controlled Gideon since the beginning of the turn, you can't attack with him this turn. In later turns you'll be able to attack with him because you'll have controlled him since the beginning of your turn. The fact that he isn't a creature at the beginning of your turn doesn't matter because the rule only checks since when you've controlled him, not since when he's been a creature.

Q: If Thespian's Stage copies Cavern of Souls, can it make colored mana?

A: Yes, it can, but that mana won't be very useful since the mana comes with a restriction that's tied to an undefined choice of creature type. Since you can't possibly fulfill this restriction, you won't be able to spend this mana on anything. You could double this mana with Doubling Cube if you have the extra mana to activate Doubling Cube's ability, which would copy the mana without its restriction, but that seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through to make one colored mana.

Q: I control a Pyromancer Ascension with two quest counters on it and cast three Grapeshots in a row. How much damage does that do?

A: Not as much as you're probably hoping. Storm only triggers when you cast Grapeshot, and it only counts spells that have been cast before. The copies that Pyromancer Ascension makes aren't cast, so they won't increase the storm count and they won't make any storm copies. The first Grapeshot gets one Pyromancer Ascension copy and no storm copies. The second Grapeshot gets one Pyromancer Ascension copy and one storm copy. The third Grapeshot gets one Pyromancer Ascension copy and two storm copies. When everything is said and done, you get three original Grapeshots and six copies, for a grand total of 9 damage.

Q: If I draft five copies of the same card, can I play them all?

A: Yup! The four-of rule only applies to Constructed tournaments. In Limited tournaments, you can use as many copies of a card as you have in your draft picks or in your sealed pool.

And that's all the time we have for this week. Please come back next week when James answers all your questions about Orzhov—for a price.

- 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.

On the Boros reckoner blocked by two 2/2 creatures, wouldn't the reckoner only reckon out 2 damage since the reckoner's contoller would have given it first strike, thereby killing one of the 2/2s in the first combat step? I really hope he gave it first strike.
#1 • Date: 2013-02-25 • Time: 21:54:56 •
Quote (Speakender):
On the Boros reckoner blocked by two 2/2 creatures, wouldn't the reckoner only reckon out 2 damage since the reckoner's contoller would have given it first strike, thereby killing one of the 2/2s in the first combat step? I really hope he gave it first strike.

There may have been strategic reasons for not giving the Reckoner first strike, such as wanting to dish out 4 damage right now. Anyway, that's not really the point of the question. The point of the question is to illustrate how the ability works with simultaneous damage from separate sources.
#2 • Date: 2013-02-25 • Time: 22:07:03 •

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