Published on 03/04/2013

A Smashing Good Time

Cranial Translation
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Not the Ming vase...
Translator's note: when Eli and Carsten asked me if I'd like to help Moko with his article for our Gatecrash theme weeks, I thought "sure, how hard could it be?" But I'd never done an article with Moko before, and I had no idea what I was getting into. And then a crate, smelling faintly of bananas, showed up at my door. And I discovered that Moko really was happy to get a chance to express his Gruul instincts. Fortunately, most of the stuff in my apartment was insured, and the doctors did a pretty good job of patching up the worst of the lacerations. But it'll be a good long while before I sign up for that again.

And now on to Moko's Gruul-themed article (with chimp-to-human translation help from James). And of course, if you've got questions you'd like answered (and wouldn't mind having a bloodrushing zombie chimp come to visit you), you can send them via email to , or tweet them to @CranialTweet.

Q: If I have an attacking creature with Holy Mantle on it, can I pump it with a bloodrush ability?

A: Translator's note: Moko actually answered this by screeching for five minutes and throwing a chair at my head.

Nope. While normally, "creatures" by itself would refer to just creatures on the battlefield, protection is a bit wonky — having protection from a card type means having protection from all cards of that type, no matter what zone they're in when they try to do something. So Holy Mantle's protection will stop bloodrush from targeting the creature it enchants.

Q: If I have a counterspell like Dissipate, can I counter bloodrush?

A: Moko apparently really hates counterspells. It took nearly an hour to catch him after the rampage he went on with this question.

Dissipate, and other counterspells, can only counter spells, and bloodrush isn't one of those! It's an activated ability, which just happens to be activated while the card with the ability is in your hand. So while something like Stifle, which can counter abilities, could stop bloodrush, plain old Dissipate and its counter-spelling brethren can't.

Q: I'm attacking with a couple creatures and one of them has a bloodrush ability. If my opponent bounces the creature with bloodrush before damage is dealt (say, with Dramatic Rescue), can I use its bloodrush on one of my other attacking creatures?

A: This question caused Moko to hop up and down for a while, beat his chest and attempt to shove a banana through my vacuum cleaner's hose attachment. I think that means he liked it.

Sure! The game won't move on to the combat damage step until all players have cast as many (instant) spells and activated as many abilities as they like, so once your bloodrusher is back in your hand, you can use its ability to pump up one of your attacking creatures that's still on the battlefield.

Q: If I have a creature with bloodrush on the battlefield, can I pay the bloodrush cost and sacrifice it to pump one of my attackers?

A: I'm going to pause the translation commentary for a bit here, because the memories are a bit too painful.

Part of the activation cost of bloodrush is discarding the card; that's something you can only do with a card in your hand (some very, very old cards used "discard" in a different sense, but they all have errata to clear that up). So your on-the-battlefield bloodrusher won't be able to do any rushing, unfortunately.

Q: If my opponent kills my attacking creature in response to bloodrush, do I still have to discard the card with bloodrush? Or can I use it on something else?

A: As mentioned above, discarding is part of the cost to activate bloodrush; you have to pay the costs up-front, and if the ability gets countered (say, by its target becoming illegal), you don't get a "refund" of any of those costs. So the card with bloodrush is already in, and will stay in, your graveyard.

Q: When can I activate a bloodrush ability? If my opponent tries to snare one of my creatures into a Pit Fight, can I respond with bloodrush to pump it up?

A: Unless they say otherwise, activated abilities can be activated any time it's legal for you to cast an instant. Though note that bloodrush specifies its target must be an attacking creature, so while you can use it in response to an instant like Pit Fight, you can only activate a bloodrush ability if the creature you're targeting is actually attacking at the moment.

Q: When I cast Signal the Clans, can I get two copies of the same creature and still get to put one of the cards in my hand?

A: Nope. The "three cards with different names" bit means that each card's name must be different from the other two. So if you search up multiple copies of the same creature, you'll just shuffle all three cards into your library, and put none of them in your hand.

Q: When I choose one of the cards at random for Signal the Clans, does my opponent get to see which one it is?

A: Yup! The cards were all revealed, and nothing says to un-reveal them or hide them during the random choice and putting one of them into your hand. So your opponent will know which one went to your hand and which ones went back into your library.

Q: But isn't that unfair? If I have to keep them revealed for the random choice, won't he just pick the one he doesn't want me to have?

A: While players often make a "random" choice by spreading cards face-down and asking an opponent to pick one, that's not the only way, and isn't the way the rules require. Any random method is actually fine so, for example, you could just roll a six-sided die (with one card being chosen by a roll of 1-2, a different card by a roll of 3-4, and so on).

Q: In a multiplayer game can I use Clan Defiance to kill a flying creature belonging to one player, a non-flyer belonging to another player, and deal damage to a third player?

A: Moko liked this one so much, he had another go at the vacuum cleaner.

Yup, that works. Nothing about Clan Defiance requires the creatures to be under the control of a single player, or to be under the control of the player targeted by the third mode. So you can hit one person really hard if you like, or spread the love around the table.

Q: If I already control one Gruul Ragebeast and then cast another, what happens when it enters the battlefield?

A: When the second Ragebeast enters, its own ability will trigger... and so will the ability of the Ragebeast that was already on the battlefield. So your brand-new baby Ragebeast will get into two fights, one after the other. You choose the order in which those fights happen.

Q: In that case, could I have the new Ragebeast fight the same creature twice? Say, to kill something that has really high toughness?

A: You can choose the same creature as the target for each trigger. Though if that creature dies, or if the Ragebeast dies, before the second fight, then the second fight won't happen.

Q: What happens when I attack with a Rubblebelt Raiders and a Hero of Bladehold? Will the Raiders be able to see the tokens the Hero makes?

A: If you set this up right, yup! You'll have multiple triggered abilities triggering at the same time, which means you can put them on the stack in an order of your choice. And Rubblebelt Raiders doesn't count the number of attacking creatures until its ability resolves, so if you put its ability on the stack first (meaning it resolves last), it'll see the extra attackers produced by Hero of Bladehold.

Q: But I thought abilities like Hero of Bladehold or Geist of Saint Traft didn't count for attacking triggers?

A: This is sort of true. Abilities that count how many creatures were declared attacking, or that trigger whenever a creature is declared as an attacker, don't see any creatures that become attacking after the initial declaration. But abilities that just ask for a count of how many creatures are attacking will see all creatures that happen to be attacking at that moment.

Moko always chooses 'O'.
Q: I control 6 lands and bloodrush a Rubblehulk, for +6/+6. If I need an extra point of power later, could I Harrow to raise my land count by one?

A: While that would grow an actual Rubblehulk, it won't grow the creature whose blood got rushed by one. Rubblehulk's own power and toughness constantly update according to the number of lands you control, but its bloodrush ability locks in the "X" in its +X/+X as it resolves, so increasing the number of lands you control later won't change the pump to the bloodrushed creature's power/toughness.

Q: I'm attacking with everything I have, and my opponent just flashed in a creature that he wants to block with. Can I use Pit Fight to try to kill it? Or can my creatures not fight because they're already tapped?

A: Although it's a common misconception, the "fight" mechanic is separate from the attacking and blocking that happens in the combat phase of the turn, and doesn't have the same restrictions — an already-tapped creature couldn't be declared as an attacker or a blocker, but it can fight just fine. And springing a surprise fight on an opponent who thought he'd have a surprise blocker is a very Gruul way to teach him a lesson.

Q: If I activate Domri Rade's +1 ability, and the card I look at isn't a creature, where does it go?

A: It goes nowhere! Domri's ability only moves the card if it's a creature and if you revealed it. If both of those things aren't true, the card just stays where it is.

Q: Can I get multiple emblems from Domri Rade? What happens if I do?

A: You can, but not much useful will happen. Double strike, trample, hexproof and haste are all pretty good abilities, but getting multiple instances of them doesn't do anything additional for your creatures — the result is the same as if they had those abilities only once.

Q: If I give Borborygmos Enraged double strike (say, with a Domri Rade emblem), will its ability trigger twice?

A: As long as it dealt damage to a player twice, yup! With double strike, the combat phase has two separate damage-dealing steps, and your double-striking Borborygmos will get to hit in both of them. And since he has trample, your opponent will need to have some pretty big blockers hanging around to stop him from getting damage through.

Q: What if my opponent blocks my Borborygmos Enraged with a 3-toughness creature? Can I discard a land to kill the blocker, and trample through for 7?

A: The vacuum cleaner is now totally destroyed. I hope you're happy. Also, I have no way to clean up the bananas.

This works, too. After blockers are declared, players get a chance to cast spells and activate abilities before proceeding to combat damage. And though Borborygmos is still considered blocked even if all his blockers are killed, the fact that he has trample will still let him deal damage... all of which will go straight to your opponent's unfortunate head.

At the cost of a lot of bananas, and most of my sanity, I've managed to lure Moko back into the crate and slap on a shipping label. He's the post office's problem now. Meanwhile, Cranial Insertion will be back next week with a return to our normal format, and I'm off to clean up the mess and figure out uses for quite a lot of banana purée.

- Moko (and James)

About the Author:
Moko was born in Tanzania, and died in a tragic accident involving a catapult while being transported from Eli Shiffrin to Thijs van Ommen between the first two Cranial Insertion articles. Subsequently zombified, he helps sort their mail and occasionally answers questions. His pastimes include bananas and brains. Mmm brains.

about Signal the Clans. If someone wants to, he can place three cards face down, let the player choose one, and then reveal all three, validating that they're creature cards with different names.

(if they're not three creature cards with different names, ignore the opponent choice. and if some of the cards aren't creature cards, don't treat them as being revealed by the effect of the card)
#1 • Date: 2013-03-04 • Time: 04:03:36 •
About the Gruul Ragebeast, why does fight fail, it seems counter intuitive... normally when a target is still valid the ability should do as much as he can...
#2 • Date: 2013-03-04 • Time: 14:18:54 •
Ture, the Fight ability has two targets. With one of them missing from the battlefield, the ability will try to resolve. But spells and abilities cannot make illegal targets perform any actions nor make any other objects perform actions upon them (CR 608.2b). That means both parts of the fight don\'t happen. There\'s also a clarifying rule under the Fight action that restates this, CR 701.10b.
#3 • Date: 2013-03-04 • Time: 18:51:23 •
@Rocket_Knight: The first line of Signal the Clans' rules text is "Search your library for three creature cards and reveal them." What you're doing is technically out-of-order sequencing, which is okay if your opponent agrees to it, but you can't trick your opponent into thinking he has to choose a card first if he wants to see all of them revealed (e.g. so he can quickly write their names down).
#4 • Date: 2013-03-04 • Time: 20:02:49 •
@Jenesis: Of course, it isn\'t meant to trick an opponent from noting the cards. He can just do that after a card is chosen, and it wouldn\'t matter much since the opponent didn\'t have much of a choice to begin with (as it\'s supposed to be random). So while it\'s technically OOOS, if an opportunity is given to note information and maks sure these are creature cards with different names then it shouldn\'t matter to him. (Though I can see how one might fear of cheating in this case)

The thing is, letting the opponent choose a face-down card, may be more fun to some, and reduces the need for rolling a die. But it\'s harder to perform after revealing the cards since they\'re easier to track (unless you\'re a good at three-card monte)*. My suggestion is meant to give this opportunity.

* But now that I think about it, someone who\'s good at three-card monte would prefer to reveal the cards, performing a real three-card monte, tricking the opponent to choose the weakest strongest cards.
- Would that count as cheating? (Edit: that is, making the opponent think he knows where the card is, thus making it less random and more controllable)

Last edited on 2013-03-05 09:35:53 by Rocket_Knight
#5 • Date: 2013-03-05 • Time: 03:53:37 •
@Rocket_Knight: Of course making a random event nonrandom would be cheating! Although I don't know what rule it would fall under.

Could you explain why having an opponent choose a card amongst facedown cards is so preferable to rolling dice? At least at the casual games I play at someone at the table will have the dice you need, and at s tournament you really should have some handy if you know you have a card that requires randomization, so it can't be dice availability that's the issue.
#6 • Date: 2013-03-08 • Time: 07:20:56 •
Could you explain why having an opponent choose a card amongst facedown cards is so preferable to rolling dice?
I haven\'t fully thought of that. But I think it\'s about the \"mini-game\" involved with choosing a card from a face-down \"hand\", as well as making the opponent feeling like he has a choice even though it\'s random. Getting the stronger creature because your opponent chose it for the player could be considered a joyful for the player, and having to choose the weaker creatures can be considered a joyful for the opponent.

And in general, I think some players like to fiddle with the cards, it\'s somewhat one of the same reasons that clash was made (so players could play a mini-game of \"war\").

(I think it\'s time to feed Moko with these edit slashes... )
#7 • Date: 2013-03-11 • Time: 02:30:47 •

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