Published on 02/25/2013

A Strange Week for Grak

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Uh oh! Where am Grak? Grak in dark.

Simic mages say, Grak in Zameck cells!

Say, "we seek to evaluate your intelligence".

Make Grak answer Magic rule question!

Grak head hurt.

Mages say "Readers, if you have additional questions, feel free to send them to , or tweet them to @CranialTweet".

Grak no understand.

Q: Does Cloudfin Raptor get two counters if both the power and the toughness of the new creature are greater than the Raptor's?

A: Nope. You too greed. One evolve just give one counter.

Q: Does evolve trigger for smaller creatures when I animate a Simic Keyrune?

A: No work! For evolve, creature must enter battlefield. Simic Keyrune no enter battlefield - on battlefield already!

Q: My Experiment One has two +1/+1 counters on it and blocks a generic 3/3. Can I regenerate it and kill the 3/3?

A: Grak no know answer this, but lucky - Simic put Experiment One in Grak cell today! Experiment One say "Oh dear; that typo is going to haunt me forever. My real name is Experiment Juan". Grak no understand.

Then Experiment One say, "Anyway, regeneration has to happen before damage occurs, not afterwards. So if I regenerated, I'd only do 1 damage".

Grak no understand.

Q: I control a Cloudfin Raptor and cast a second one. Does the first one evolve because its power is less than the new Raptor's toughness?

A: Hah! Stupid bird. Grak hate bird. No evolve, cos power compare only power.
Toughness compare only toughness.

Q: When I Redirect Aurelia's Fury, can I change the number of targets and/or the damage division, too?

A: No work! Redirect just say choose new targets - no choose other thing.

Q: Experiment One has four +1/+1 counters on it, and a Wrecking Ogre is blocking it. Can I keep it alive and kill the Ogre by regenerating after first-strike damage?

A: Grak ask Experiment One again. Experiment One say "Oh, call me Juan, everyone does". Grak no understand.

Then Experiment One say "Well, unfortunately, that doesn't work - as soon as I tried to regenerate, I'd become a 3/3 with three damage on. So I'd die before the regeneration ability even resolved". Grak no understand.

Then Experiment One say "In any case, creatures are removed from combat when the regenerate. So if I did manage to regenerate, I certainly wouldn't stick around to do regular combat damage". Grak no understand.

Q: Say I have an unevolved Experiment One with Agoraphobia on it. I then cast a Cloudfin Raptor. Does
Experiment One evolve? Will the game actually count it as a -4/1 or is it still a 0/1 to the game?

A: Magic game a lot like Grak: minus number hurt brain. No use, unless have to.

Experiment One say, "Actually, the game uses negative numbers for most mathematical operations: additions, subtractions, and comparisons. It's only the final effects that get restricted to zero. The evolve ability is doing a comparison here, so it treats me as a -4/1 - I'll evolve just fine."

Q: My opponent wants to pull all the counters off his Cloudfin Raptor to make a giant Ooze with Ooze Flux. Can I kill his Raptor in response so he can't do that?

A: Ooze Flux remove counters as cost to activate ability. So bird die, but counters already removed. Still make giant Ooze. This question funny because stupid bird die.

Q: If I have an Experiment One and cast Talrand's Invocation, can I stack the triggers in some way so it gets two +1/+1 counters?

A: Experiment One say "Sorry, that won't work! Just before evolving, I always compare my current power against the creature that entered the battlefield. So there's no way any number of 2/2 creatures could make me
into a 3/3." Grak no understand.

Q: If Fathom Mage enters the battlefield with counters from Master Biomancer or something, do I get to draw cards?

A: Yes! If Fathom Mage enters the battlefield with counters on it, that does count as placing counters on Fathom Mage.

Hey... whatever the biomancers attached to Grak's brain this morning, somehow it seems to be making it a little easier for Grak to think now.

Q: My opponent's pointing a Boros Charm at my Jace, Architect of Thought! Can Simic Charm save Jace with hexproof?

A: Nope; the relevant part of Boros Charm is "Boros Charm deals 4 damage to target player". The special planeswalker damage redirection effect allows Boros Charm's controller to redirect damage to Jace, but that doesn't change the fact that the spell is targeting a player.

Sadly, Simic Charm can only make permanents hexproof - not players.

Q: How big is a creature with three +1/+1 counters after I cast Biomass Mutation for 4?

A: You'll be pleased to hear your creature is 7/7! You can think of Biomass Mutation as setting the creature's base power and toughness; most other effects (such as giving a creature +X/+X or -X/-X, or a +1/+1 counter) will apply on top of that.

Poor Juan.
Q: Clinging Anemones and Adaptive Snapjaw enter the battlefield at the same time somehow. Do they trigger each other's evolve abilities?

A: Indeed they do. Enters-the-battlefield triggers look at the game state immediately after the event they're interested in (as do most triggers). Since both creatures are on the battlefield at that time, they can both see each other entering the battlefield, and they both trigger just fine.

Q: I activate Simic Manipulator removing one +1/+1 counter to steal a 1/3 Crocanura in response to Crocanura's evolve trigger. Do I put a counter on it?

A: Yep, your new Crocanura gets its counter. To be a bit technical about it, your opponent is actually the one who
puts a counter on it... but evolve is not an optional ability, so it hardly matters.

My word, whatever those biomancers implanted is definitely working - I'm finding it so much easier to articulate thoughts now. Look at me now, world! Never expected Grak to master the personal pronoun, did you?

Q: I took a Simic Manipulator with an Act of Treason and want to keep it forever. It has five counters on it now. How many do I have to remove to keep it?

A: Aha, this is a tricky one; intuitively, it seems like you should be able to remove three counters, and steal the now-2-power Simic Manipulator. Sadly, intuition is less reliable than most people would

It comes down to the order of operations for activating the ability -
1) Decide how many counters to remove
2) Pick a creature with that much power or less
3) Remove the counters.

So the Manipulator doesn't actually get smaller until after the target has been chosen! The upshot is, it doesn't matter how many counters Simic Manipulator has on it: To steal a Simic Manipulator, you have to remove counters equal to or greater than the Simic Manipulator's power. In other words: all of them.

Q: Experiment One is just hanging out when my Young Wolf undergoes a Rapid Hybridization. How many evolve counters will One get?

A: Everything goes about as well as you'd hope!

As the Rapid Hybridization is taking place, two abilities trigger: Juan's evolve, and the Wolf's undying. Since you control both creatures, you choose which order to put the abilities on the stack. For maximum evolution, you'll want to put Undying on top, so it resolves first, triggering a second instance of Juan's evolve ability. It goes on the stack on top of the original.

That's all - now just let them resolve! Juan will first get his counter from the Wolf (which is a 2/2, and Juan is 1/1, so he gets bigger); then he'll get his counter from the Frog Lizard (which is a 3/3, and Juan is a 2/2, so he gets bigger again).

Juan adds, "Experiment One no understand".

(You know, for an ooze, he has a pretty good sense of humor.)

Q: Does evolve still resolve if the new creature is killed in response?

A: On resolution, the evolve ability checks the creature's power and toughness; if the creature is missing, the game uses the last values it had when it was on the battlefield. So most likely, evolve will still work after the creature has been killed.

(Exception: if it died because it got -X/-X, its last known toughness will be 0; and its power is probably pretty low, too.)

Q: When my opponent casts Forced Adaptation, will I be able to respond after knowing which creature he's going to put it on?

A: No problem - Aura spells have targets, just like most instants and sorceries do. You'll know which creature the spell is targeting when you respond to it.

Q: Can I find nonbasic lands like Simic Guildgate and Breeding Pool with Farseek?

A: It doesn't matter what kind of mana the land produces; the important thing is what the card says on its type line.

So, Breeding Pool - yes you can! The card says "Land - Forest Island", and Farseek will happily seek out Islands for you.

Simic Guildgate - no, you can't! The card says "Land - Gate", which is not one of the land types that Farseek has listed.

Q: A Quicksilver Elemental with a +1/+1 counter on it copies the abilities of a Frilled Oculus with a +1/+1 counter on it. Can Experiment Kraj activate the ability twice now?

A: It can indeed! The simple rule of thumb is that when copying abilities, you get a separate copy of the ability for each separate instance you copy. So each time you activate Quicksilver Elemental targeting Frilled Oculus, it (and hence Kraj) gets one additional copy of the Frilled Oculus ability.

Q: I heard of some way to use Cytoshape to have two of Jace, the Mind Sculptor out at once. How does that work?

A: Ah, indeed. Free your mind - the solution is to construct a Jace, the Mind Sculptor that's NOT a Jace.

Unlike legendary permanents, a planeswalker's uniqueness is based on its planeswalker subtype: Planeswalker - Jace, in this case. The rules don't allow us to keep two permanents on the battlefield that both have the Jace subtype.

Now, we can't remove the subtype directly... but if we make him a non-planeswalker, he implicitly loses that subtype in the process. So we've found our goal: we need to stop Jace from being a planeswalker any more.

First obstacle - there are almost no cards that do things to planeswalkers. They're basically like the most boring card type imaginable. Really, what we need is a creature. Everything works
on creatures.

Ok, let's go: Mycosynth Lattice turns everything into an artifact; and (for the sake of argument) Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas turns Jace from an artifact planeswalker into a 5/5 artifact creature planeswalker.

(Come to think of it, doing this with Gideon Jura would be much easier. Oh, well. Another option is Enchanted Evening + Opalescence, but turning every single permanent into a creature has some... awkward side-effects. Such as, all the lands die. Oops.)

Yay, Jace is a creature! Now let's Cytoshape him. There are a few reasonable choices, but I'm going to pick Gliding Licid. So, until the end of the turn, Jace becomes a 5/5 blue Artifact Creature - Licid. Let's see what happens when we activate that nice new Licid ability of his... (I'll assume there's a suitable target creature to attach him to.)

Ok, now the Licid ability overwrites all his other types: Jace is an Enchantment - Aura.
And at the end of the turn, Cytoshape will wear off, but the Licid ability won't - he'll revert to being a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, of type Enchantment - Aura, and with with enchant creature in addition to his other abilities.

Mission complete! Now you can play another Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and use both of their abilities; enjoy!

Truly a modern tragedy.
Well, this has certainly been an intriguing evaluation. The Biomancer in charge of my case has been delighted with my response to the spliced goblin brain tissue, and has reported complete success in... hey, what are you doing with that Bioshift? Watch where you're pointing - Nooo!


Where am Grak? Simic release Grak? Grak evolve! Grak were smart!

Grak answer so many question!

Grak no understand.

- Grak, Mindless Null

Grak cool. Me like.
#1 • Date: 2013-02-25 • Time: 00:46:52 •
Is Grak a friend of Oog by any chance?

Great article.
#2 • Date: 2013-02-25 • Time: 04:49:33 •

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