Published on 04/08/2013

Sunset, Sunrise

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

What, did you think Carsten was joking last week?
It's the end of an era here at Cranial Insertion. Despite the best efforts of ourselves and our lawyers, Eli Shiffrin's new circumstances will render it impossible for him to continue writing Cranial Insertion regularly. We hope to slip him a file or two in time for him to be back with us for the Dragon's Maze prerelease article, but he surely won't remain free forever.

In Eli's absence, I've been asked to step into his shoes. Some of you may already know me as zammm from the Wizards Community, AKA GrifterMage on MTGSalvation and various other Magic-related forums, but in real life I'm Callum Milne, an L2 judge and rules goob based in Nanaimo in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I look forward to answering all of your rules questions, so send them to me and the rest of the Cranial Insertion team via email at or via Twitter at @CranialTweet.

This article is dedicated to Eli; I'm sure you'll join me in wishing him all the best of luck.

Q: I control a creature enchanted with Murder Investigation, when my opponent causes a Sudden Disappearance of my forces. At the beginning of the next end step, what happens to the Investigation?

A: Unfortunately for the pursuit of justice, the Investigation is called off. Sudden Disappearance tries to return everything at the same time, but your Investigation has to enchant something that's already on the battlefield, so it can't be attached to the creature it was attached to before. With nothing to enchant, the Investigation remains right where it is: in exile.

Unless you've somehow managed to drop one or more creatures onto the battlefield since the Disappearance, in which case your Investigation will return enchanting one of them.

Q: I control a 3/3 creature enchanted with Murder Investigation, but this time my opponent casts Planar Cleansing. Do I get my three tokens, or does the Investigation not trigger because it's destroyed too? Or do the tokens get killed as well?

A: Justice shall prevail this time; you'll get your three tokens. Murder Investigation's ability will see the enchanted creature dying in time to trigger, and the ability won't be put onto the stack at all until Planar Cleansing has completely finished resolving. Shortly thereafter, you'll get three tokens.

Q: I use Inaction Injunction to detain my opponent's creature, then attack. My opponent uses Cloudshift on his creature before blockers are declared; is his creature still detained and unable to block?

A: No; the creature can block just fine. Once it's left the battlefield, your opponent's creature is no longer detained, so if it re-enters the battlefield, it will be able to block as normal. As far as the game cares, it's an entirely new creature.

Q: I Arrest my opponent's unpaired Wolfir Silverheart. Can she still pair it with something to give it +4/+4?

A: Yes. Arrest stops attacking or blocking and stops activated abilities from being activated, but pairing a creature with soulbond involves none of those things. Soulbond is a triggered ability and the +4/+4 ability is a static ability—Arrest doesn't stop either of those from working.

One little misunderstanding gets out of hand
and suddenly nobody's your friend any more.
Q: My opponent controls an unpaired Elgaud Shieldmate, and casts another creature. Can I Murder the Shieldmate before it becomes hexproof if my opponent decides to pair it with the new creature?

A: You can Murder the Shieldmate if you wish, but not if you wait to see if it gets paired. If you want to be sure you can kill the Shieldmate, you'll need to do so before soulbond's trigger resolves.

Your opponent only decides whether or not to pair with the new creature as the Shieldmate's soulbond trigger resolves, and the creatures will be paired—and thus hexproof—as soon as that choice is made. So if you wait for the trigger to resolve, the Shieldmate will be hexproof before you have a chance to Murder anything.

Q: I drop Azorius Arrester to detain my opponent's Towering Indrik. On my opponent's turn he tries to cast Prey Upon to have the Indrik fight the Arrester. Can he do that?

A: Yes, he can. Being detained stops his Indrik from attacking or blocking, but fighting is neither of those things. Prey Upon will resolve normally and his Indrik will fight your Arrester, which will probably come out on the losing end of things.

Q: In a three-player game, one of my opponents casts a big, scary creature. The third player and I both react by playing counterspells on it right away, before checking to see what the other player is doing. Whose spell actually counters the creature? (It matters because mine's Fall of the Gavel.)

A: The creature will be countered by the spell controlled by the player who is furthest from having their next turn.

After your (first) opponent cast the creature, he passed priority to the next player in the turn order. That player cast his counterspell and then passed priority on to the next player in the turn order, who then cast his own counterspell. After another full round of priority passes, that second counterspell will resolve, countering the creature. The first counterspell to be cast will be left with nothing to counter, so will most likely be countered on resolution and do nothing.

Q: My Prison Term is enchanting one of my opponent's creatures, but then Phyrexian Crusader hits the table. What happens if I move the Prison Term to the Crusader?

A: You can't do that; Prison Term stays right where it is. Phyrexian Crusader has protection from white, which means (among other things) that it can't be enchanted by white Auras. If something (like Prison Term's ability) tries to attach an Aura on the battlefield to something with protection from that Aura, it fails and the Aura stays where it is instead.

Q: I control Ghostly Prison and Incite one of my opponent's creatures. Is she forced to pay for the Prison?

A: No; Incite forces your opponent to attack with the creature if it's able to, but it doesn't force your opponent to make it able to attack. Your opponent can choose not to tap lands and pay to enable her creature to attack; if she doesn't pay, then the creature is unable to attack. So it won't.

Q: My opponent detained my planeswalker, then tried to attack it with some creatures. Doesn't being detained mean it can't be attacked?

A: Your planeswalker being detained will not prevent your opponents from attacking it. A planeswalker that's detained can't attack or block (which it couldn't normally do anyway) and its activated abilities can't be activated, but it can be attacked just fine.

Q: If I cast an Elemental Appeal and then Clone the token, will I have to sacrifice the Clone at the beginning of my end step like I do the token?

A: No. The original token gets exiled thanks to a delayed trigger set up by Elemental Appeal, and that trigger doesn't know or care that you Cloned the original. There's nothing trying to exile the Clone-Elemental, so it isn't exiled.

Compare this with Clone on a Ball Lightning; in that case, what causes the Ball to be sacrificed is one of its own abilities, and since the Clone will also have that ability, you will be forced to sacrifice it.

Q: Can I cast Overrule on a spell that can't be countered, just to gain some life?

A: Absolutely. Casting Overrule on a spell that can't be countered is perfectly legal, because the required choice is "target spell", not a "target spell that can be countered". When Overrule resolves, it will do as much as possible: try (and fail) to counter the uncounterable spell, and then gain you X life, since that much at least is still possible.

Q: My opponent controls Ghostly Prison, and I control five Forests and four creatures, one of which is an Arbor Elf. Can I attack him with my other three creatures, using the Elf to help pay for the Prison?

A: Sadly, no, because Arbor Elf's ability is not a mana ability, no matter how similarly it may be used.

Declaring three attackers requires you to pay thanks to the Prison. Since the game is asking you to pay mana, it gives you an opportunity to activate mana abilities to produce that mana, but it only allows you to use mana abilities, nothing else. Since Arbor Elf's ability isn't a mana ability, no untapping a forest for you, leaving you one mana short of the six you'd need.

Q: If I cast Alpha Brawl on my opponent's Acidic Slime, does deathtouch kill the other creatures before they can deal damage back?

A: No. Creatures dying from lethal damage (even deathtouch damage) only happens as a state-based action, and state-based actions don't happen in the middle of a spell or ability resolving; they'll wait until after the spell is completely finished resolving before doing their thing, and by that time the Slime's taken a whole lot of damage.

That guy totally had it coming.
Q: At FNM, my opponent cast Stab Wound on my creature, but doesn't say anything during my upkeep and seems to have forgotten about the life-loss trigger. Do I need to remind her of it?

A: Reminding her would be the nice thing to do and I encourage you to do so, especially if you're playing against a new player, but no, you're not required to remind her. You never need to remind your opponent about her own triggers if she forgets about them—you just need to remember your own.

If your opponent remembers later on about a trigger she had forgotten, call a judge, and the judge will help you sort things out.

Q: In a multiplayer game, one of the players used New Prahv Guildmage to detain a bunch of things just before he died. Detain lasts until that player's next turn, and he'll never have a next turn, so are those things detained permanently?

A: No. In a multiplayer game, if someone detains something and then leaves the game, the detain will last until their turn would have started, if they hadn't lost.

Q: My opponent controls Isolation Cell. Can I cast Burning-Tree Emissary and use the mana it produces to pay for the Cell's ability?

A: No. Isolation Cell triggers when you cast the Emissary, so its ability will go onto the stack on top of the Emissary and will resolve first. You need to pay right then if you want to avoid losing life, but you won't get any mana from the Emissary until later, when it resolves and enters the battlefield.

Q: I cast Browbeat targeting myself. My opponent controls Solitary Confinement, but says he can still take the damage to stop me from drawing cards, even if the damage gets prevented. Is that true?

A: Yes. The "if no one does" on Browbeat means "if no one decided to have Browbeat deal damage to them"; it doesn't matter whether or not the damage actually ends up getting dealt.

Q: With Thought Prison, if I cast something that matches both cost and color, do I take a total of 4 damage, or still just 2?

A: Just 2. When you cast a spell, Thought Prison asks one question: "Does this spell share a color or cost with the imprinted card?" If the answer to that question is yes, it deals 2 damage to you. It doesn't ask a second time, even if both color and cost match.

Q: Will Day of Judgment or Supreme Verdict kill a hexproof creature?

A: Yes. Day of Judgment and Supreme Verdict don't use the word "target", so they don't target anything, and hexproof only stops opponents from choosing the creature as a target—it doesn't stop nontargeted things from affecting the creature.

Q: If Dying Wish is on a 2/2 creature that gets hit with Executioner's Swing, how does the life gain/life loss work, since the creature's now -3/-3?

A: Each player's life total will remain the same. Players can't lose a negative amount of life, and they can't gain a negative amount of life either, so they just don't gain or lose anything.

We'll always miss you, Eli!

Q: Why does Rest in Peace exile itself when targeted by removal?

A: Replacement effects like Rest in Peace's work by looking at what's about to happen and then changing it so that something else happens instead.

Since Rest in Peace is (naturally) still on the battlefield just before it tries to go to the graveyard, its ability is still functioning, and will replace that with exiling.

And that's it from me. Be sure to come back next week, when James will be back to forcefully shove some more rules knowledge into your noggin. But in a nice way, I'm sure.

Until then, keep the questions coming, and good luck to you at your new job, Eli.

...What? Why are you all looking at me like that? What did I say?

- Callum Milne

[Note from Eli:

I'm not actually gone for good, but moving and adjusting to a new job at once is taking its toll on my ability to write. I'll be back for the
Dragon's Maze special, but probably missing another article after that, while Callum serves as an excellent replacement! After that... we'll see. It's entirely possible that we'll switch to a four-writer rotation, or I might put down my pen after eight years and just manage the site.

Until next time, live life in italics!
- Eli Shiffrin]

About the Author:
Callum Milne is a Level 2 judge from British Columbia, Canada. His home range is Vancouver Island, but he can be found in the wild throughout BC and also at GPs all along the west coast of North America.

Can you clarify the Dying Wish / Executioner's Swing answer? I thought I read on this site in a different article that the game rewinds to the moment before a creature dies, in this case wouldn't that be before the -5/-5 caused it to die? Different card interaction?
#1 • Date: 2013-04-08 • Time: 07:25:29 •
Can you clarify the difference in Elemental Appeal and Ball Lightning. To me, they both read like delayed triggers. Wouldn't the clone also clone the exile at next end step on the token? Thanks!
#2 • Date: 2013-04-08 • Time: 08:41:24 •
@thepowda: At the moment before the creature died, it was -3/-3 - and then state-based actions killed it for being tiny. You're thinking about damage, which would not reduce its power or toughness, and then dying, perhaps?

@mercuryangel3: Ball Lightning isn't a delayed trigger; it's just a triggered ability on the card. That is copiable, while the delayed triggered ability hovering in limbo is not.
#3 • Date: 2013-04-08 • Time: 09:20:02 •
On the Ghostly Prison/Arbor Elf question: The first thing to do in the declare attackers step is actually declaring attackers, right?

So, only if that was not the case, one would be able to add mana to the mana pool (using the Elf as well), since that would not require mana abilities and then declare three attackers, right?

Sorry for the weird/very hypothetical question.
#4 • Date: 2013-04-09 • Time: 12:13:45 •
Zitat (Dread):
On the Ghostly Prison/Arbor Elf question: The first thing to do in the declare attackers step is actually declaring attackers, right?

So, only if that was not the case, one would be able to add mana to the mana pool (using the Elf as well), since that would not require mana abilities and then declare three attackers, right?

Sorry for the weird/very hypothetical question.

Discussing "if the rules were entirely different" isn't very useful - if the rules were different, all sorts of things could be true. :D
#5 • Date: 2013-04-09 • Time: 16:21:47 •

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