Published on 04/29/2013

Twists // Turns

or, Flipping Tables

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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


- Carsten Haese

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. There are exits to the north, east, south, and west.

Go north.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. There are exits to the north, east, south, and west.

Go east.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. There are exits to the north, east, south, and west. There is a letter on the ground.

Read letter.

Welcome to Cranial Insertion! Today is our Dragon's Maze special, and you can tell at one glance what makes this episode so special: It's split into two articles! This is the left half, dedicated to split cards, while Eli over there in the right half is covering some interactions involving unsplit — or, for a lack of a better word — normal cards.

If you have questions for us, whether about split cards or not, please send them to or tweet at @CranialTweet. You'll always get an answer directly, and your question might even appear in a future issue.

Q: If I control Goblin Electromancer, does it reduce the mana cost of each half of a fused Turn // Burn so I only have to pay ?

A: No, it doesn't work like that. When you fuse a split card, you're casting only one spell. To calculate the total cost of that spell, you use the usual formula (which we covered just last week), except that you add the mana costs of both halves together to start with. You start out with the combined mana cost of and subtract the cost reduction, for a total cost of .

Q: If I imprint Beck // Call on Thought Prison, what kinds of spells will trigger Thought Prison's damage ability?

A: The ability will trigger on green spells, blue spells, white spells, spells with converted mana cost 2, and spells with converted mana cost 6. It will not trigger on spells with converted mana cost 8. The reason is that abiltities that perform positive comparisons (such as "is card 1's converted mana cost the same as card 2's mana cost?") involving split cards compare each half separately, and the end result is "yes" if either half answered "yes." The comparison succeeds for green spells because Beck is green, for white spells because Call is white, and for blue spells because either half is blue. It succeeds for converted mana cost 2 because Beck has converted mana cost 2, and it succeeds for converted mana cost 6 because Call has converted mana cost 6.

You're in a maze
of twisty little passages,
all alike.

Q: If I cast Council of the Absolute, can I name both halves of a split card?

A: No. This used to be possible, but the rules update for Dragon's Maze changed this, so you can only name one half of a split card. Your opponent can't cast that half, and if the card has fuse he can't cast it as a fused spell, but he could still cast the half that you didn't name.

Q: If my opponent casts a fused Far // Away, can I Redirect it and change the targets for both halves?

A: Absolutely. A fused Far // Away goes on the stack as a single spell that you can target with Redirect. You choose new targets for the entire thing, so you choose new targets for each half of the fused spell.

Note that this only works with Redirect and similar effects that allow you to choose new targets for a spell. Something like Swerve can't target a fused Far // Away because it's not a spell with a single target.

Q: Let's say I control a Gyre Sage that has no counters on it. If I target it with a fused Give // Take, can I let the Give half resolve, tap the Sage for mana, and then let the Take half resolve?

A: No, that's not possible. Just as in the previous question, a fused spell is a single spell. Both halves resolve before any player gets priority to do anything.

Q: But wait, isn't Gyre Sage's ability a mana ability that I can activate at any time?

A: Well, it is a mana ability, but you can't activate mana abilities at any time. You can activate mana abilities when you have priority or when the game asks you for a mana payment. During the resolution of Give // Take, neither of those conditions is true.

Q: I cast a fused Breaking // Entering, and one of the cards milled with Breaking is Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Does Emmy shuffle herself away immediately, or can I put her onto the battlefield with Entering?

A: You can put her onto the battlefield. Emmy's graveyard shuffling ability is a triggered ability that uses the stack, and that ability won't even go onto the stack until after all of Breaking // Entering, including the Entering part, has finished resolving.

Compare this to something like Blightsteel Colossus, which shuffles itself into its owner's library instead of going to the graveyard, so it won't be in the graveyard for the Entering part.

Q: How much damage does Blast of Genius deal if I discard Beck // Call to it?

A: A whopping 8! Blast of Genius asks Beck // Call what its converted mana cost is, and it receives two answers, 2 and 6. Consequently, it simultaneously deals 2 and 6 damage, for a total of 8.

You're in a maze
of twisty little passages,
all alike.

Q: Let's say there's a Splinterfright in my graveyard together with five other creature cards. If I target it with Flesh, how many counters would I put onto one of my guys?

A: That'll be six counters. Splinterfright has a characteristic defining ability that functions in all zones, including in the graveyard, so it's a 6/6 while it's one of the six creature cards in your graveyard. Also, "the card you exiled" refer to the card as it existed in the graveyard, not as it exists in the exile zone, so you'll get six counters because its power in the graveyard was 6.

Q: Can I cast a fused Down // Dirty and have the card target itself with the Dirty half to get a pseudo-buyback effect?

A: That's a neat idea, but it doesn't work. While you're casting Down // Dirty and choosing targets for it, it's on the stack, not in the graveyard, so it's not a legal target for the Dirty half.

Q: I control Counterbalance and my opponent casts a fused Wear // Tear. What do I have to reveal with the Counterbalance trigger to counter his spell?

A: A fused spell has one converted mana cost that's equal to the converted mana cost of both halves added together, so a fused Wear // Tear has converted mana cost 3.

Q: So, what's the color identity of a split card with fuse? Can I use Beck // Call in a blue-green deck? If so, can I fuse it?

A: That's a no. Whether the card has fuse or not, both halves of a split card count towards its color identity. You can't even put Beck//Call in your blue-green deck in the first place, let alone fuse it.

And that's all the time I have for now. Gotta split! See you next time!


- Eli Shiffrin

Aaaand I'm back! It's been a busy month with a new job in the Boston area... and I suppose by now you all know what's been going on there from the news. Don't worry, I'm nowhere near all the bad stuff - my absence is solely due to the stress and lack of free time due to moving and starting a new job. Callum will be back in a few weeks for his second article, replacing mine again, and by then we should know whether we'll have a four-writer rotation or if I'll be sitting back for a bit.

But this week, it's time to celebrate Dragon's Maze! It's amazing! And that's an overplayed pun that probably only works in English! Man, my first week back and I'm already making my translators cry. To celebrate various nifty things, we're revisiting one of our most popular article styles: Divide // Conquer, the split article, now with full HTML support for tables and stuff!

Man, these vertical lines make my half of the article look so much longer. But, as always, we'll need even more questions so that normal articles are also longer! Send yours in to or find us on Twitter @CranialTweet and they can appear in future articles, while you get your answer directly from us either way.

And now it's time for Moko to be our maze runner and dash in to feast upon the other runners. Especially Ruric, a two-for-one. Delicious.

He's so grumpy!

Q: If we each control a Notion Thief, do they make an infinite loop and break the game?

A: Notion Thief only steals notions, not games. It has a replacement effect, and any one replacement effect can only apply to an event once. So after your Notion Thief replaces your opponent drawing with you drawing, his applies to replace that with him drawing again, and then both have applied. Neither gets to apply again, and the game progresses on its merry way.

Q: How does controlling two Blood Scriveners work?

A: More replacement effects! You start with an event of [Draw a card]. You apply one Scrivener, and you get [Draw a card, Draw a card, Lose 1 life] - remember that all card draws are independent and sequential events. Now you still have one Scrivener's effect to apply to the first of those events, so you have [[Draw a card, Draw a card, Lose 1 life], Draw a card, Lose 1 life]. Net result in plain language: Draw two additional cards and lose 2 life.

Q: Does Warped Physique count itself in my hand?

A: It won't; if you remember All Crazy Teenagers, the first step of casting a spell is to take it from where it is and to put it onto the stack. It's no longer in your hand then, and very much won't be there when it goes to resolve, so it won't be counted among the cards in your hand.

Q: Can I sacrifice Rakdos Guildgate for Renounce the Guilds?

A: To determine the colors an object has, first look at the mana cost, then color indicators it may have, then any abilities that define its color. The Guildgates - and most lands, even! - have no mana cost, no color indicator, and no abilities giving them a color, so they're colorless permanents. Despite being heavily guild-affiliated, you can't renounce your Gate.

Q: In a four-player game, I attack one player who's at 1 with Carnage Gladiator and he blocks. Do I need to regenerate my Gladiator to keep it alive?

A: Nope, your Gladiator will gladly survive. As soon as your opponent declares blockers, in the declare blockers step, the Gladiator's ability triggers. It resolves, the opponent loses his last point of life, and then loses the game. When you get to your combat damage step, the blocked creature won't have anything to deal damage to - by losing the game, all of the dead opponent's stuff left with him.

You're in a maze... wait...

Q: Can a bunch of creatures with changeling power up Maze's End?

A: Nope. Gate is a land type, not a creature type. Creatures with changeling only have all the creature types, not any other fun subtypes like Gate, Locus, Arcane, or Jace.

Q: My opponent controls three creatures, one of which has protection from red. Does my Scab-Clan Giant have a 50/50 chance of fighting the other two creatures, or does it have a 1/3 chance of having an illegal target and getting countered?

A: It'll be a 50/50 for the other two. Any "target chosen at random" effects only look at legal targets while determining what could be the target creature. The alternative would be a chance of an illegal target, which would just rewind the activation and start it all over again!

Q: Can I let combat damage happen, then Restore the Peace before my creatures actually die?

A: You won't have any time to Restore the Peace. In order to cast a spell, you need priority. Immediately before receiving priority, state-based actions are checked, and if they see creatures with lethal damage on them, those creatures explode - still before you've ever received priority. By the time you can cast anything, it's too late.

Q: After Nivix Cyclops gets up and attacks me, can Clear a Path still destroy it?

A: Yup! Its wording is written very carefully so that you can do this; too many cards care about having defender to remove it willy-nilly, and the modern standard is to let things attack as though they didn't have defender rather than to remove defender.

Q: I have a Krasis Incubation on my opponent's 2/2 Knight token. My opponent decides to Punish the Enemy targeting me and his Knight. Can I bounce my Incubation and have his Knight still die?

A: You can return the Incubation if you'd like, but then the Knight will survive. If you return Incubation before Punish the Enemy resolves, its ability will resolve first and make the Knight a 4/4. After Punish the Enemy resolves, the Knight dies as a state-based action before you have priority to return Incubation, and then Incubation is put into your graveyard as another state-based action still before you can do anything.

Q: If Kaalia of the Vast attacks and brings out Master of Cruelties, can its ability still trigger even though it never attacked?

A: Its ability can still trigger. "Whenever this attacks and isn't blocked" sounds a lot like "Whenever this attacks," but both templates have explicitly different definitions in the rules; "attacks and isn't blocked" cares more about the "isn't blocked" and doesn't really care if the creature attacked.

Flamingos on the left!

That's all for now. Come back next week for more Dragon's Maze questions, with new questions with old cards, too! Hopefully I'll be back to deliver you more delicious questions sooner rather than later.

Until next time, don't get lost.
Fuse (You may read one or both halves of this article. We recommend both since they're free.)

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.

I kept trying to start on the left side, and then move to the right side like a normal fuse spell, but some of the formatting didnt work out =P

Neat idea though
#1 • Date: 2013-04-28 • Time: 22:46:41 •
Re: Blood Scrivener... Doesn\'t the card text specifically tell you to draw two off the trigger, not \"draw an additional\"? Both triggers tell you to instead draw two. I almost would have expected Two Scrivs to only net you two cards. (if the second Scriv trigger checks to see if conditions are met when it fires after the first - which got rid of the \"no cards in hand\" qualifier - and then fails)
#2 • Date: 2013-04-29 • Time: 08:32:09 •
Blood Scriviner isnt a trigger though. It is a replacement effect. So, the first one sees you trying to draw from an empty hand, and the replacement effect takes hold so you would draw 1, draw 1, lose one. Then the second one sees that "Hey! You dont have a hand, here, have an extra card!" I like the use of brackets, so I am going to steal it. Once the second scriveners replacement kicks in, it replaces the first draw you would have taken from the first scriviner, and you end up with the following

(Draw 1, Draw 1, Lose 1), Draw 1, Lose 1

Where everything in brackets is from the second scriviner
#3 • Date: 2013-04-29 • Time: 08:42:50 •

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