Published on 05/27/2013

A Memorial Day Parade of Rules Questions

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A day of remembrance
Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Today is the last Monday in May, which means that it's Memorial Day in the US, a day to remember those who have fallen in the service of the United States Armed Forces. Let's celebrate the day by presenting a parade of Magic rules questions!

If you have questions for us, please email them to or tweet them to @CranialTweet.

Q: If I cast Progenitor Mimic and copy Enigma Sphinx, will I cascade for 6 or for 7?

A: Unfortunately, you won't cascade at all. Cascade is an ability that triggers when you cast a spell that has cascade. At the moment you're casting Progenitor Mimic, it is still a Progenitor Mimic full of hopes and dreams and the potential to be anything you want it to be. It's not an Enigma Sphinx yet, so it doesn't have cascade yet. By the time it enters the battlefield and gains cascade, it's too late for it to trigger.

Q: Does Possibility Storm's ability trigger if I cast Bonfire of the Damned with miracle?

A: Yup. Even if miracle cards in real life often seem to be cast straight from the library, they are actually cast from the hand. Revealing the miracle as it's being drawn triggers an ability, and the revealed miracle is cast from the hand during the resolution of that triggered ability. The fact that it's cast for an alternative cost doesn't matter to Possibility Storm.

Q: Do I get an extra turn if I run into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Possibility Storm?

A: Certainly! Possibility Storm lets you cast the card you run into, and Emrakul's extra turn ability triggers on casting her. The fact that you're not casting Emmy from your hand or paying any mana for her is entirely irrelevant to that ability.

Q: Is having two Possibility Storms on the battlefield better than having one?

A: I'd say so, yes. When you cast a spell from your hand, both Possibility Storms' abilities trigger, and they resolve one by one. The first to resolve exiles the spell you cast and then gives you a free spell. The second to resolve tries to exile the spell you cast, fails, shrugs its metaphorical shoulders, and proceeds to give you a second free spell since that part is not contingent on successfully completing the first part.

Q: Let's say I control an Iceberg with one ice counter on it, and I control Rimefeather Owl. If I remove the last ice counter from Iceberg to make mana, can I use that mana to pay snow costs?

A: Nope. To pay a snow cost, you have to spend one mana of any type that was generated by a snow permanent. While Iceberg was a snow permanent when you started to activate its mana ability, it ceased to be a snow permanent immediately when you removed the ice counter to pay for its ability. This means that Iceberg was not a snow permanent when its mana was added to your mana pool.

Q: Can I tutor for Research // Development with Sunforger?

A: Yes, that works. While neither half is a red or white instant card with converted mana cost 4 or less, that doesn't matter. Sunforger checks each characteristic separately, and as long as at least one half satisfies each check, Sunforger is happy. Development satisfies the "red or white" check and Research satisfies the "converted mana cost 4 or less" part, so the card matches what Sunforger is looking for.

Q: How does Inquisitor's Flail work if I put it on Szadek, Lord of Secrets?

A: Not terribly well. When the game gets to the point of dealing damage to your opponent with your Flailing Szadek, there are two applicable replacement effects that want to change how this event would affect your opponent. As the player that would be affected by this event, he gets to choose one to apply, and then he applies the other effect if it's still applicable.

If he applies the Flail's effect first, the damage gets doubled and then Szadek mills twice the normal amount and gets twice the number of counters. However, if your opponent applies Szadek's effect first, the damage is replaced with something entirely different, so the Flail's effect is no longer applicable and Szadek mills the normal amount.

So, as long as your opponent chooses the course of action that minimizes the amount of bad stuff happening to him, there is no appreciable difference between a Flailing Szadek and an unequipped Szadek.

I see a red card
and I want it painted black
Q: My opponent casts Painter's Servant, naming black, and starts to grind me with Grindstone. Does Grindstone stop grinding if it comes across a Ghostfire?

A: Nope, sorry. Ghostfire has a characteristic-defining ability that's always applied first in the color-changing layer, layer 5. Painter's Servant's effect is applied afterwards and makes Ghostfire black, so the grinding continues.

Q: In a recent article I learned that the choice of whether to exile the targets with Angel of Serenity's ability is only made when the ability resolves, but I also know from All Crazy Teenagers that many choices are made when spells are cast. How can I tell which choices are made when?

A: There are two possible points in time at which a choice for a spell or ability could be made: The first is when the spell or ability is put on the stack. For a spell, this happens during the process of casting it. For an activated ability, this is part of activating it. For a triggered ability, it's part of putting it on the stack after it has triggered. Let's call this point "early."

The second point for making choices is when the spell or ability resolves, while following the spell's or ability's instructions. Let's call this point "late."

The choices that are made early can be boiled down to "targets and costs": the choice of what you're targeting, as well as any choices that influence how many targets there are, what they are, what you'll be doing to the targets, and any choices that could influence how much you'll pay for the spell. The rules have a comprehensive list, but this summary works in most real-life situations.

The choices that are made late are all other choices: Choosing a color, naming a card, and whether to exercise a "may" option are just some examples of late choices. This list can't be comprehensive by definition, since it consists of any choices that aren't made early.

Q: My opponent and I are both at 5 life. I control Ruric Thar, the Unbowed while he controls Guttersnipe and casts Searing Spear on me. Who dies?

A: Your opponent dies. Searing Spear goes on the stack first, and this triggers the abilities of Guttersnipe and Ruric Thar. Those abilities goes on the stack on top of Searing Spear in APNAP order, active player's trigger first, but it doesn't matter in this case who the active player is. Even if his Guttersnipe trigger resolves first, your Ruric Thar trigger resolves and kills your opponent before his Searing Spear gets the chance to finish you off.

Q: Let's say I control Coat of Arms and I animate two Forests with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. Does Coat of Arms give my animated Forests +1/+1 because they share the Forest type?

A: Nice try, but no. Coat of Arms only looks at creature types, and Forest is only a land type even if it happens to be on a creature that is also a land. Kamahl doesn't give your lands any creature types, so they won't receive any Coat of Arms bonuses.

Q: Does Blaze Commando's ability trigger multiple times for things like Cone of Flame or an overloaded Street Spasm?

A: No. Blaze Commando's ability doesn't care about how much damage is dealt or how many recipients are being dealt damage. Every time an instant or sorcery spell you control deals any amount of damage to any number of recipients, that's one trigger. Cone of Flame and Street Spasm deal all their damage at once in one "deal damage" instruction, so those spells trigger Blaze Commando's ability once. Look at Mana Clash and Lash Out for examples of spells that can trigger Blaze Commando multiple times by dealing damage on multiple occasions.

Q: If I have Sakashima the Impostor copying Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, and a creature goes to an opponent's graveyard, what name and abilities would Sakashima have if I chose to copy that creature card?

A: The resulting creature's name would be Sakashima the Impostor, and it would have hexproof, Lazav's copying ability, and the abilities of the creature card it just copied. It would not have Sakashima's self-returning ability.

Lazav's copy ability doesn't change the card's name to Lazav; it simply excludes the name characteristic from the copying process altogether so that it retains its previous name, even if that name wasn't Lazav.

For adding abilities, the copy ability works the other way around: it copies all of the abilities of the thing being copied (which overwrites all abilities Lazav had already, including Sakashima's self-returning ability), and then the ability grants itself and hexproof to Lazav.

Q: Suppose I control Lost Auramancers with one time counter on them. At the beginning of my upkeep, I remove the last time counter and tutor for Defense of the Heart. Can I then use Defense of the Heart's ability because it's still the beginning of my upkeep?

A: No, that doesn't work. The beginning of your upkeep is a point in time. When Lost Auramancers' ability resolves, you're already past that point, so Defense of the Heart missed its chance to trigger for that turn. It'll still trigger next turn, though!

Thank you for the memories!
Q: My opponent mills ten cards from my library, and the fifth card is Gaea's Blessing. Does Gaea's Blessing's ability go off right away, or do I finish milling all ten cards and then shuffle my graveyard back into my library?

A: That depends on what exactly your opponent is using to mill ten cards. If it's one activation of Jace, Memory Adept's 0-loyalty ability, you mill all ten cards and then you put Gaea's Blessing's trigger on the stack. If your opponent activated Drowner of Secrets ten times, Gaea's Blessing's trigger goes on the stack on top of the five remaining activations, so you shuffle your graveyard into your library right away and then you mill five more cards.

Q: I have a few questions about Kaho, Minamo Historian. First off, are the cards exiled face-up or face-down?

A: Exiled cards are exiled face-up by default. Since Kaho doesn't specify otherwise, it exiles cards face-up, so your opponent can see what "surprises" you're pulling out of your library.

Q: If I exile a split card with fuse with Kaho, Minamo Historian, can I fuse it? What about cards with overload?

A: Neither fuse nor overload will work. Fuse only works when you're casting a card from your hand, and Kaho lets you cast the card from the exile zone. Overloading doesn't work because overload is an alternative cost, as is Kaho's "without paying its mana cost" effect, and you can't apply multiple alternative costs to a spell.

Q: Let's say Kaho, Minamo Historian is my commander, it dies and I put it into the command zone. If I recast it later, can I then cast the cards it exiled before?

A: No, those cards are lost indefinitely. The new Kaho is a new object with no relation to or memory of its old existence, so it doesn't know anything about the cards that were exiled by its former self.

Q: If Child of Alara is my commander and dies, does its ability trigger if I choose to put it into the command zone?

A: Nope, sorry. Putting your commander into the command zone is a replacement effect that replaces going to the graveyard with going to the command zone. Since your commander didn't go to the graveyard, it didn't actually die, so its ability doesn't trigger.

Q: Can I use Batterskull in a Commander deck with a non-black commander? What about cards with Phyrexian mana symbols such as Lashwrithe?

A: Batterskull is fine since there are no colored mana symbols in its card text or in its mana cost. The fact that the living weapon trigger makes a black token is doubly irrelevant. For one, the color word "black" only appears in reminder text. For another, color words don't contribute to the card's color identity.

Lashwrithe is another matter. The Phyrexian black mana symbols in its equip cost are in fact black mana symbols, so Lashwrithe's color identity is black. As such, you can't use it with a non-black commander.

And that's all for today. Please join us again next week when Callum shows us some Modern interactions!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.


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