Published on 06/03/2013

Bait // Switch

Or, Never Trust A Trailer

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

This would make writing for
preview weeks so much easier...
Hello and welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion, where our crack team of highly trained question-finders have once again scoured the internet to bring you the finest rules questions around. (Well, okay, maybe one of them's only the second-finest, but that's still pretty darn good!)

Originally this article was going to be Modern Masters themed, but unfortunately at press time previews were just barely starting, so there wasn't a whole lot of options for cards to ask questions about. Early press deadlines make translation much less stressful, but they definitely have their drawbacks.

As always, if you'd like to have a rules questions answered by one of our writers, and possibly featured in an upcoming article, send them to or tweet them to @CranialTweet.

Q: I control Bred for the Hunt and enchant my opponent with Curse of Stalked Prey. Would attacking with Invisible Stalker draw me a card on the first attack, or just on the subsequent ones?

A: You won't draw a card on the first attack; in order for Bred for the Hunt to trigger, the creature needs to already have a +1/+1 counter on it at the time it deals combat damage.

Q: Two Huntmaster of the Fells transform into Ravager of the Fells and both deal 2 damage to a Lotleth Troll with no counters on it. Does the troll need to regenerate once or twice?

A: Twice. The two triggers resolve separately, so even if the Troll's controller regenerates once to save it from the first one, the second one will still be waiting to resolve, and will kill it if it's not regenerated again.

Q: If a creature with a cipher card encoded on it hits a player, but the cipher card is named by an opponent's Council of the Absolute, can I cast it?

A: Yes. Council of the Absolute only stops players from casting cards with the chosen name, and cipher causes you to cast a copy of the encoded card, not an actual card. As such, the Council's restriction does not apply.

Q: How much life do I lose if I reveal a fuse card with Duskmantle Seer?

A: You'll lose an amount of life equal to the combined converted mana costs of both halves. So for example, if you revealed Far // Away you'd lose both 2 life and 3 life, for a grand total of 5 life.

Griffin chariots, storms, getting
soldiers when things return to your hand.
That makes sense, right?
Q: What happens if I cast Stormfront Riders when I don't control any other creatures?

A: The Riders will enter the battlefield and its ability will trigger; when the ability resolves you'll be forced to do as much as possible, which means you'll have to return the Riders to your hand. (And then you'll get a 1/1 white Soldier token from its other ability.)

Q: If I have a Cartel Aristocrat and a Geralf's Messenger on the board, and I sacrifice the Messenger to the Aristocrat, do Undying and the Aristocrat's ability go on the stack at the same time, to be ordered however I like?

A: No; you'll have to return the Messenger before the Aristocrat's ability resolves. When you activate the Aristocrat's ability, you put it on the stack as the first step in doing so. A little later on you sacrifice the Messenger to pay the activation cost, and the Undying trigger will go onto the stack...on top of the Aristocrat ability that's already there. The stack resolves from the top down, so Undying will always resolve first.

Q: My opponent attacks with three creatures, including a Firefist Striker, targeting my creature with the Striker's ability. If I cast Restoration Angel after the ability resolves and flicker my creature, will it be able to block?

A: Yes. The creature that was targeted by the Striker has left the battlefield; as far as the game is concerned the creature that entered the battlefield a moment later is a completely new creature, whether it has the same name as the old one or not.

Q: I cast Boros Charm to give my Nivix Cyclops double strike and +3/+0, then attack and cast Dragonshift on it. Does he retain the original +3/+0 pump and double strike?

A: Your Cyclops will be a 10/4 blue and red Dragon with flying, but not double strike. Effects that set power or toughness to a specific value are always applied first, with other modifications applied on top of them. Effects that add or remove abilities are applied in the order they're created.

Q: My opponent attacks with Leyline Phantom and I block with Cartel Aristocrat with protection from blue. Does phantom go to my opponent's hand?

A: No. All the damage the Phantom would deal to the Aristocrat is prevented, so its ability never triggers and it doesn't go to your opponent's hand.

Q: If I control Telekinetic Bonds and at the end of my turn have to discard from 10 cards to 7, will this trigger between each discard, allowing me to do something in between discards if I want to?

A: No; you'll discard all three cards at once, and the Bonds will trigger three times. All those abilities will be put onto the stack at once. You'll have a chance to do things in between each Bonds trigger, but by the time you can do anything all three cards are gone.

Q: What happens if you Reverberate a Lightning Bolt that currently has an illegal target? Do you have to choose new targets, or can you choose not to and have the Bolt fizzle?

A: You can choose not to change the target if you like (though why you would is a mystery), but if you do decide to choose new targets you'll have to choose a legal one.

Q: If I Dragonshift a token is it still considered a token?

A: Yes; being a token isn't something that can be changed or removed. Tokens aren't cards, and nothing can ever turn a card into a token or a token into a card.

Fusing it's just like being Indiana Jones,
only without having to run from a
giant stone ball of doom.
Q: If you have a creature with Runner's Bane on it and you fuse Give // Take on that creature, will the Bane fall off?

A: No. While the creature will momentarily have power greater than 3, state-based actions (which are responsible for removing Auras enchanting things illegally) aren't checked mid-resolution. They're only checked after the spell's finished resolving, and by that time it'll be small again.

Q: Can my opponent cast Plasm Capture when I cast Loxodon Smiter? He says he still gets the mana but the card is not countered. Is this true?

A: Your opponent is correct. Plasm Capture will be unable to counter your Smiter, but it still tries to do as much as possible, so it will still give your opponent mana at the beginning of his next main phase.

Q: Can I cast Rootborn Defenses without anything to populate?

A: Absolutely. The Defenses don't care whether or not you control any tokens at the time you're casting it. If you don't happen to control any by the time it resolves, the spell will just shrug and continue on its merry way to the graveyard like any other spell.

Q: I have two 1/1 tokens and cast Hidden Strings untapping both. My opponent wants to respond to me ciphering the spell onto one of my tokens by killing it, does that work?

A: Not quite. Ciphering is part of resolving the Strings; you only decide which creature to encode it onto at that time, and players can't cast spells in the middle of resolution. If your opponent responds to the Strings spell, you'll just encode it onto the other one; if he waits until resolution, by the time he can do anything, it's already encoded.

Your opponent can still do what he wants, just not the way he was describing it. He just has to wait until the Strings has finished resolving, and kill whichever creature you encoded it to.

Q: If a creature is enchanted by both Alpha Authority and Madcap Skills, will it be unblockable?

A: Yes. Players can't declare a set of blockers that violates any blocking restrictions, and there's no possible way to block such a creature without violating one of the restrictions created by those Auras. If your opponent tries to block with more than one creature, he runs afoul of Alpha Authority, and if he tries to block with just one he runs afoul of Madcap Skills. The only legal choice is not to block at all.

Q: Does Ground Seal stop scavenge and flashback?

A: No. Casting a spell with flashback or activating a scavenge ability from your graveyard does not involve targeting the card in your graveyard, so the Seal does nothing to stop it.

Q: Can my opponent respond to me playing a land and do things before the land enters the battlefield? Does playing a land pass priority?

A: No; playing a land is a special action that doesn't use the stack, and after taking a special action, the player who had priority receives it again.

Q: My opponent casts Show and Tell. I put Control Magic onto the battlefield, and my opponent puts out Griselbrand. Does he get priority to activate Griselbrand's ability before it becomes mine?

A: That's a trick question; you can't put Control Magic on Griselbrand at all! You need to decide what to attach Control Magic to before it actually enters the battlefield, and at that point Griselbrand isn't on the battlefield yet either, so it's not a legal choice.

Q: Does Maze's End need to be on the battlefield for its win condition to apply?

A: No, but you did need to have it out in order to use its ability.

Just having Maze's End in your deck or even on the battlefield isn't what makes you win, no matter how many different Gates you control; in order for you to win, you need to activate its ability. When the ability resolves, it will count the number of different Gates you have and if there's ten or more, you win.

It doesn't matter whether Maze's End is on the battlefield as the ability is resolving or not. Which is really good, because it usually won't be—you had to return it to your hand as part of the cost of activating the ability in the first place.

Q: My opponent attacks with two 2/2 Stromkirk Nobles, and I block one with my Boros Reckoner. If I redirect the 2 damage from the Reckoner to the unblocked Noble, will it die? (After I take 2 damage.)

A: Yes. After combat damage is dealt, there are two triggers waiting to be put onto the stack—the Noble's and the Reckoner's. The Noble is controlled by the active player (the one whose turn it is), so it will be put onto the stack first, and then the Reckoner's trigger will be placed on the stack on top of it. Therefore, the Reckoner's trigger will resolve first, killing the Noble before it can get another counter.

See? Even the second-finest question was still really good, wasn't it? I bet you couldn't even tell which one it was, could you? I thought not.

Come again next week, when James will be dishing up another steaming helping of rules questions. Hopefully this time they'll all be the finest.

Until then, remember to keep your eyes shut.

- Callum

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.

On the Boros Charm/Nivix Cyclops question, you would still be able to work it out the way you wanted. If you cast the Charm, but cast Dragonshift on the cyclops before the Charm resolved, it would become a 7/4, then a 10/4, then gain double strike. Just add an opponent's face to win.
#1 • Date: 2013-06-03 • Time: 23:29:47 •
Hi. Just wanted to ask about the question with the LeyLine Phantom and Cartel Aristocrat. If the Leyline Phantom had trample and double strike, and the Cartel Aristocrat had protection from blue, an earlier article mentioned that 6 (2+4) points of damage would hit the opponent's face, since lethal damage is only considered to be 2 to kill the Aristocrat. If the damage is prevented, wouldn't it just deal 4 (2+2) damage to the player?
#2 • Date: 2013-06-12 • Time: 05:18:11 •
I tried to find the article you're talking about so I could check an idea I had about why you might be confused, but I couldn't find anything. Most likely, you're thinking of an answer to a question where the blocking creature was indestructible rather than having protection. Marked damage will stay on the indestructible creature until the cleanup step, so for a blue 5/5 with trample and double strike being blocked by an indestructible 2/2 the damage assignment would be 8 (3+5). For a blue 5/5 with trample and double strike being blocked by a 2/2 with protection from blue the damage assignment would be 6 (3+3).
#3 • Date: 2013-06-12 • Time: 08:04:43 •

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