Published on 04/15/2013

Spoiled rotten

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

We all get to win when it's
spoiler season
The gates have been crashed for a while now, and it's coming time to run a certain maze. A Dragon's Maze, if you will, and we're all mighty curious to see what Niv-Mizzet has in store for us (probably something that'll make our brains all explodey). And preview season is in full swing, with new cards practically storming onto the internet as tons of sites unveil their preview cards. Of course, we can't answer questions about the new cards in our articles until the FAQ for Dragon's Maze is out, but luckily there are still plenty of questions about existing cards we can deal with.

Though on second thought, let's just say it's possible you might want to pay close attention to this article...

And as always, if you've got questions, please send them to us by using the handy "Email Us" button, by sending an email to , or by tweeting at @CranialTweet.

Q: Does Torpor Orb shut off Overburden's trigger? It seems like it shouldn't since the thing that triggers Overburden is the player's action, right?

A: Torpor Orb doesn't really care why a triggered ability is triggering from a creature's entry, just that the ability is triggering from it. And Overburden most certainly tries to trigger from a creature entering the battlefield, so Torpor Orb steps in and says "Nope".

Q: I have Hands of Binding encoded on one of my creatures, but my opponent has No Mercy. If I attack and deal damage, which happens first — the destruction or the cipher trigger? If the creature gets destroyed first, do I still get to copy the Hands of Binding?

A: As with so many things, the order here depends on whose turn it is. Since you're attacking it's probably your turn; that means your cipher trigger will go on the stack first, then the No Mercy trigger. No Mercy's trigger will resolve first and destroy your creature. But all is not lost! Since cipher has already triggered, you'll get a copy of Hands of Binding (though of course you won't be getting any more copies on future turns).

Q: What if the Hands of Binding gets removed from exile in response to the trigger, say with Pull from Eternity? Do I still get a copy?

A: You do! What "the encoded card" is got locked in at the moment of the trigger. If that card's no longer where it was expected to be when the trigger resolves, then the trigger can use its last known information and make a copy based on that. Though again, you won't be able to get copies on future turns unless you re-cast and re-encode the original Hands of Binding.

Q: My opponent's at 10 life and I have Pandemonium out. I cast Wall of Blood; can I respond to Pandemonium's trigger and pump my wall up to 10 power for the kill? What if my opponent kills the Wall in response?

A: Pandemonium checks the creature's power when its triggered ability resolves, which means anything you can do to pump it up in response to the trigger will increase the damage Pandemonium deals. And if the creature gets destroyed before the Pandemonium trigger resolves, it'll use the creature's last known information, dealing damage equal to whatever the creature's power was when it was last on the battlefield.

What is it good for? Spoilers, apparently.
Q: I've got Angel of Jubilation and Norn's Annex out. Does that mean my opponent can't attack me at all unless he can generate white mana?

A: Angel of Jubilation only cares about the costs of spells and activated abilities; Norn's Annex's ability isn't a spell, and it isn't an activated ability either, since those are always worded "Cost: Effect." So your opponent is free to pay either an actual white mana or 2 life per creature to attack you.

Q: How does banding work with trample? Say, if I have a Benalish Hero and an Armada Wurm attacking as a band, and my opponent blocks the Hero with a 1/1 Experiment One, can I trample through for 5? Or only for 4? And can he kill my Hero?

A: Blocking one creature in a band causes all the creatures in the band to become blocked, so the Armada Wurm is blocked by the Experiment One, too. But trample lets you take into account whether the blocker is receiving lethal damage from another creature it's blocking; in this case the 1 damage from the Hero is lethal, so Armada Wurm is free to trample all 5 of its damage through to your opponent. And since the Experiment is blocking a band, that band's controller chooses how Experiment One's damage gets assigned; that's you, so if you want to save the Hero you can have Experiment One assign its 1 damage to the Armada Wurm.

Q: If a soulbonded Silverblade Paladin blocks another soulbonded Silverblade Paladin, what happens? Do the creatures they're bonded with still get to deal damage twice?

A: Most likely not, since the two Paladins will kill each other in the first combat damage step. And when they die, their pairings break, meaning the creatures they were paired with lose double strike immediately, and won't get to swing again in the second combat damage step.

Q: If I don't attack with any creatures, can I use Hua Tuo, Honored Physician in my second main phase?

A: Nope. "before attackers are declared" means "before the declare attackers step of the turn". Since that step has come and gone — even though you didn't do anything special in it — you can no longer activate Hua Tuo.

Q: What happens if I Reverberate an epic spell like Undying Flames? Will I get two copies of it each upkeep? Or will epic somehow stop that from happening?

A: You will indeed get two copies per upkeep. Epic simply says you can't cast spells for the rest of the game; it doesn't say anything about whether you or effects you control can make copies of spells (and a good thing, too, since otherwise epic wouldn't be able to make copies!). And if you somehow manage to get two copies of an epic spell to resolve in a single game, each one will set up its own triggered ability to go off in your upkeep and make a copy of itself.

Q: If I sacrifice Flayer of the Hatebound to Victimize, will I get Flayer triggers for the two creatures Victimize returned?

A: Nope. Flayer gets sacrificed during the resolution of Victimize, meaning that its own undying trigger can't go on the stack until Victimize has completely resolved. So Victimize puts the two creatures onto the battlefield, then Flayer's undying trigger goes on the stack and returns it; since it wasn't around to see the other two creatures enter, it only sees and triggers for itself.

Q: The rulings in Gatherer for Frogtosser Banneret say it can reduce cost even if I'm casting a Rogue via prowl. Does that also mean it could reduce the cost to suspend Infiltrator il-Kor?

A: This works with prowl because prowl is simply an alternate way of casting the spell. Suspend will eventually cast the spell (when the last time counter comes off), but the action of suspending itself doesn't cast anything. So the Banneret can't reduce the suspend cost of your Infiltrator.

Q: I use Act of Treason to take my opponent's Archon of Justice, then I Fling it. Who gets to exile something?

A: You do! Whoever controlled a creature at the time it died will also control any "when this dies" triggered abilities. You controlled the Archon when it got flung, so you control its triggered ability and get to choose what to exile.

Q: In a Commander deck, could I play Misty Rainforest even if my commander's color identity is only green and not blue?

A: Yup. Color identity takes into account mana symbols, color indicators and characteristic-defining abilities that set color; Misty Rainforest doesn't have any of those, so its color identity is just straight-up colorless. Of course, you can't have any Islands in your deck, but it'll still happily fetch your green commander a Forest.

Wait, the new "From the Vault" doesn't come out
for months...
Q: I targeted my opponent's Boros Keyrune with Sylvan Primordial's ability. Then he animated it in response. What happens?

A: If that was the only target, the Primordial's ability is countered since all of its targets have become illegal (as a creature, the animated Keyrune is an illegal target for the Primordial's ability), and so the ability does nothing at all. If there were other targets (say because it's a multiplayer game) and some of them are still legal, then Primordial will destroy those targets, and you'll get to search up a Forest for each one that actually got destroyed (but no Forests for illegal targets, or for things that otherwise escaped destruction).

Q: Everybody seems to be playing Blood Artist these days. So suppose I'm at 5 life and my opponent's at 5 life, we each have a Blood Artist, and five creatures die simultaneously. Is the game a draw?

A: Nope. Whoever's turn it isn't will win! Whenever multiple abilities trigger at the same time, the active player's (that's the player whose turn it is) triggers go on the stack first and resolve last. The non-active player's (the player whose turn it isn't) triggers go on the stack last and resolve first. So if it's your opponent's turn, your five Blood Artist triggers resolve first and kill him. If it's your turn, his triggers resolve first and kill you.

Q: If I use Restoration Angel to "blink" one of my transformed creatures (say, a Ravager of the Fells) which side comes back?

A: Unless the effect putting the card onto the battlefield says otherwise, a double-faced card always enters the battlefield — from any zone — "day"-side up. So your Ravager will come back as Huntmaster of the Fells.

Q: With Possibility Storm, does the original spell end up back in my library?

A: Yup! The original spell is a card "exiled with Possibility Storm", so it joins the pile of other stuff going to the bottom of your library at the end of the process.

Q: Wait. What the heck is Possibility Storm?

A: Oh. I guess you probably want to see that, don't you? Well, here it is, Cranial Insertion's very own Dragon's Maze spoiler:


Q: OK, so, let's get this out of the way: Possibility Storm is pretty good with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, right?

A: Yup, that's going to lock your opponents out of, well, pretty much everything. "In the middle of resolving Possibility Storm's ability" is not a time when they could cast a sorcery, and Teferi's prohibition on casting wins against Possibility Storm's permission to cast (the old "can't beats can" rule). So whenever one of your opponents tries to cast a spell from their hand, that spell will never resolve — it'll just end up on the bottom of their library mixed among the stuff that got exiled for Possibility Storm — and the card they hit from Possibility Storm will end up there too since they can't cast it.

Q: If I hit a spell with buyback, can I pay the buyback cost? What about kicker?

A: Casting a card "without paying its mana cost" just means you don't pay for the mana symbols in the upper-right corner of the card. You can still pay any optional additional costs like kicker or buyback, and you must still pay any mandatory additional costs (like sacrificing a creature for Fling).

Q: What if the card I hit from Possibility Storm is one I don't want to cast? What if it's one that I don't have legal targets for?

A: Possibility Storm says you "may" cast the card. So if you don't want to, you don't have to; you can choose not to cast it and it'll just join everything else at the bottom of your library. And if you can't legally cast the card (say, because you can't choose all the targets it requires, or you're unable to pay mandatory additional costs for it), then you can't choose to cast it.

Q: If Possibility Storm triggers off a flashback spell, does that spell stay exiled? Or does it go to the bottom of my library?

A: Trick question! Possibility Storm only triggers for spells cast from hand, not from other zones. So it won't trigger from a spell with flashback being cast from a graveyard (it also won't trigger when cascade, rebound or suspend causes you to cast a spell from exile).

Q: What counts for "shares a card type"? Say, if I cast Vendilion Clique and my opponent's Possibility Storm triggers, would I get to cast another legendary creature if I hit one? Would I be able to cast a Bitterblossom since it's also a Faerie?

A: "Card types" mean things like "creature" or "instant"; legendary is a supertype, so matching on that won't work. And although tribals have creature subtypes, subtypes aren't card types either, so to cast a Bitterblossom you'd need to start off with a tribal (which is a card type) or an enchantment.

I'm plain tuckered out just from considering the possibilities raised by this, so I'll call that a wrap for now. But be sure to tune in next week when Carsten returns with another installment of Cranial Insertion!

- James Bennett

About the Author:
James Bennett is a Level 3 judge based out of Lawrence, Kansas. He pops up at events around Kansas City and all over the midwest, and has a car he can talk to.

At the Blood Artist question: Shouldn\'t the last line read \"If it\'s your turn, his triggers resolve first and kill you.\"?

And concerning Possibility Storm: Does the originally cast spell (the one that triggers the Storm) still resolve? Or is that countered as it\'s exiled?
#1 • Date: 2013-04-14 • Time: 23:20:04 •
Yup, just a typo in the Blood Artist question, fixed it.

And Possibility Storm moves the original spell off the stack and into the exile zone, then into the library. This isn't countering (so a "can't be countered" clause won't interfere), it's just a straight-up zone change. But since the original spell is no longer on the stack, it will not resolve.
#2 • Date: 2013-04-15 • Time: 00:12:12 •
On the Soulbounded Silverblade Paladins question, since all the creatures had double strike at first, wouldn't they deal that damage, but assuming they no longer have double strike (from the paladins dying) or first strike, wouldn't the soulbonded creatures do normal damage then still?
#3 • Date: 2013-04-15 • Time: 01:39:52 •
The creatures that were paired with the Paladins have already dealt damage once, in the first combat damage step (the one the Paladins died in). Now they don't have double strike, which means they do not get to deal damage again (if they got to deal damage a second time without having double strike anymore, that would be weird, so they don't get to deal damage again).
#4 • Date: 2013-04-15 • Time: 04:50:06 •

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