Published on 06/17/2013

Summer Is Coming

or, Winter in the Southern Hemisphere

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Yay for non-doomy summers!
Here on the eve of summer proper, I'm enjoying weather that does not make me crawl under the shade lest I fry on the pavement! Instead, we get tropical storms and flash flooding. Wet animals smell bad enough, just imagine what a wet zombie monkey smells like.

So, to distract myself from this awful odor, here are a bunch of answers to your questions. Yes, yours, ReaderNumber[623], you exactly! Do you have more? Send them in to , tweet us @CranialTweet, or click the monkey at the top left.

For the many of you that I'm sure are coming out to Grand Prix—Las Vegas, Callum and I will be there judging what's set to be a ridiculously huge event. It has, in fact, occurred to us that adding a fourth writer has reduced the chances of ever getting the entire team together closer to zero. Meanwhile, our editor, Nicola, and I were happy to see a bunch of you at Providence last weekend. Based on the timing, I'm pretty sure he even edited the article while riding home Sunday night, because he's just that awesome an editor.

For now, the questions await!

Q: I cast Inspiration off the top of my library with Melek, Izzet Paragon. How much information does my opponent get?

A: He'll get a bunch. Card draws are sequential, one-at-a-time events, and even though no player may take an action in between each event, the top card of your library will still be revealed in between each. He'll see all four cards that you draw, plus the next one after you're done.

Q: How does Fluxcharger work with Dynacharge?

A: With the glory of layers! The wonderful thing about layers are that layers are wonderful things. They make various effects like these fit cleanly into an orderly system. In this case, the system puts the effect of Dynacharge after the effect of Fluxcharger, even though Fluxcharger's ability resolves before Dynacharge. You'll get a 3/5 creature if you don't switch, and a 5/3 creature if you do, with no other possible result.

Unless, of course, you didn't cast Dynacharge targeting Fluxcharger or overloaded, but then this question is pretty pointless.

Q: What'll happen if I toss in a Dragonshift to go with Fluxcharger and Dynacharge?

A: With that happy fun system of layers, an effect that sets power and toughness always goes before any plus or minus. So first your Fluxcharger becomes 4/4, then 6/4, and then, if you choose to switch, 4/6. It doesn't matter where in the mix you put Dragonshift; the effects will always apply in exactly that order, just like the last question.

Q: Can I cast a split card fused when I hit it off Possibility Storm or imprint it on Isochron Scepter

A: You can only fuse a split card when casting it from your hand, not from anywhere else. In any other situation, you've got to cast one half. While this may seem obvious to some readers, it's surprising how easy it is to glaze over reminder text - which is what was intended with its creation.

I like to moo it moo it.
Q: Boros Reckoner gains deathtouch and blocks a 4/4. Can it kill a 5/5 with its trigger?

A: Yup! Immediately before it died, it had deathtouch, and that last known information is used to determine whether the damage will kill everything.

Q: Does a Boros Reckoner blocked by three creatures have one big trigger or three smaller triggers?

A: Just one big trigger. Even though three sources dealt it damage, that damage was dealt simultaneously, so its trigger condition was met only once.

Q: Can Nix counter a Gitaxian Probe cast for life?

A: It can. Nix cares about what was actually paid, not what the cost of the spell is. Phyrexian mana represents a cost, just like hybrid mana symbols, and not an alternative way to pay mana.

Q: How does trample work against Fog Bank?

A: When calculating lethal damage, you don't look at things that will prevent the damage, or increase it, or redirect it. Just look at the toughness, marked damage, and deathtouch - a 5/5 trampler here will assign 2 damage to Fog Bank, since that's its toughness, and 3 to the player.

Q: Can one Ninja of the Deep Hours bounce three attackers so I can Wrath the board after combat?

A: Strangely enough, you can do that. The cost to activate the ninjutsu ability is the cost on the card plus "return an unblocked attacking creature you control to its owner's hand."

Q: If I Reverberate a spell with cipher, can I encode the copy?

A: Nope - you can only ever cipher a card, and a copy of a spell isn't a card no matter how hard you stare at it. Although to be fair, if you're staring so hard that copies of spells appear in front of you, you may need to see a doctor.

Q: Is Notion Thief really awesome with Duskmantle Seer or not?

A: How they get along under the covers (of darkness!) aside, they don't interact on the battlefield. Duskmantle Seer doesn't use the word "draw," so what its ability does is not a card draw; Notion Thief won't replace it.

Q: What does Sword of Light and Shadow do if I turn it white?

A: Its value plummets through the floor. Not only because you've ruined a perfectly good card, but assuming that you used Purelace or something less silly to make it white rather than an eraser or white-out, you've made it mostly useless. As soon as it becomes attached to a creature, that creature gains protection from white and goes "EEEEEEEW" and throws down that white object attached to it. The only use you'd get out of it is to remove other white and/or black things attached to objects, which is a huge step down from the Sword's normal awesomeness.

Q: Can I animate a Mutavault to attack after my opponent resolves a Cryptic Command to tap down my creatures?

A: Yup! You won't move out of the beginning of combat step until both players pass priority on an empty stack. When you get priority, just toss a Mutavault activation onto the stack rather than passing, and boom, you've got a Jellyfish Unicorn Ninja to attack with. It won't travel backwards in time and become tapped, as awesome as the idea of a time-traveling Jellyfish Unicorn Ninja sounds.

Custom grave plots. One size
fits both birds and beasts.
Q: My 8/8 Prime Speaker Zegana ate a morbid Tragic Slip in response to her ability. Do I have to discard five cards?

A: Nope. Drawing negative cards is impossible; you don't take the logical opposite and do that, as cool as an idea as that sounds. You just draw zero cards because negative numbers just don't work here.

Q: Ixidron turns everyone face down. Do counters and Auras stick around?

A: They do! The face-down objects are the same objects as the creatures that used to be face up, and turning face down doesn't have any specific rules instructing you to treat them differently from other objects that just happen to change characteristics.

Q: Can my Army of the Damned get really awesome on a Cathars' Crusade?

A: Your pile of Zombies will indeed embark upon a mighty crusade. They all enter at once, and each triggers Cathar's Crusade. As each of the thirteen triggers resolve, you put a +1/+1 counter on each of your creatures. All thirteen each add a counter, so you end up with thirteen 15/15 Zombies which should be plenty of brain-eating power to appease even Moko.

Q: If a creature gets turned in response to Clone, do I get a 0/1 Weird or the original creature?

A: You'll get the original. With extremely few extremely rare exceptions, the only effects that are copiable are other copy effects. Turn isn't a copy effect, so it's ignored by Clone.

Q: Does copying a spell with another card spliced on copy the splice?

A: It actually does. Splice has you copy a part of the revealed card onto the spell that's being cast, and since it's copying (and since choices made while casting are also copiable values - choose your explanation!), the copy has the same text spliced onto it.

Q: Can Blinkmoth Nexus animate, block, and tap to pump itself, then kill off a 2/2 creature?

A: That's a popular old move that started with Mishra's Factory waaaay back in the day. Both players do get priority in the declare blockers step after blockers are chosen, a tapped blocker still deals combat damage, and Blinkmoth Nexus is a legal target for its own ability once animated.

Q: When I cast Death Cloud, who sacrifices creatures first? Does he get to know what I sacrificed?

A: Both players sacrifice the creatures at the same time, and any "when another creature dies" triggers will see the whole group of creatures being sacrificed. But since it's not possible for players to make and mark their choices secretly, the player whose turn it is announces his choice of creatures to throw into the cloud, then each other player in turn order does so, and then they're all sacrificed. Your opponent will know what you'll sacrifice when he makes his choice.

Q: If there are two minutes left on the clock, and my only options are to gum up the board and cause a draw or not and lose, is it stalling if I do gum things up?

A: Stalling (and the unintentional version of the same, Slow Play) is about playing slowly and not progressing the game. Using the game itself to progress the game into a state of "neither of us can win" is actually a lot more progress than "I'm doing nothing to burn up time" and is legal. You just need to clutter up the board in a reasonable amount of time so that your opponent still has his reasonable amount of time to attempt to undo it.

Q: I don't like the idea of intentional draws. Can I ban them at my FNMs?

A: The Magic Tournament Rules specifically allow intentional draws at sanctioned events. A tournament organizer can technically do whatever he or she likes, but organizers who violate specific provisions of the MTR may find their store barred from sanctioning any more cool events. Rather than breaking the MTR and banning undesired but legal behavior, incentivizing to avoid that behavior lets the store follow the MTR and (hopefully) fixes the problem!

You may also want to talk to an experienced judge about why the provision is there - in the case of intentional draws, one reason is to prevent the players from wasting everyone's time playing slowly and sloppily to result in a drawn match after fifty minutes. You could view a draw as 0 points for the purpose of giving prize, but now you're encouraging players who would naturally draw a match to engage in bribery or rolling a die to determine a winner.

The sun's setting on this week, but come back next time when Carsten breaks out more cold ones. Or possibly hot ones. Questions, that is.

Until next time, viva Las Vegas!

- Eli Shiffrin

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 don\'t understand how the Ninjitsu can bounce 3 attackers with one ninja. Can you explain that in a little more detail?

\"Can one Ninja of the Deep Hours bounce three attackers so I can Wrath the board after combat?\"
#1 • Date: 2013-06-17 • Time: 05:20:19 •
You announce you're playing the ninjutsu ability, then you pay the costs, which in this case includes returning an unblocked attacker. Once this is done, you choose to retain priority, and repeat the process, and then repeat it again. Essentially you're responding to your own ninjutsu ability on the stack.

When the topmost ninjutsu ability resolves, the Ninja enters the battlefield. When the subsequent abilities resolve, they don't do anything.
#2 • Date: 2013-06-17 • Time: 05:54:32 •
oooooh ok i get it now, I was for some reason under the impression that part of the ninjitsu cost was putting the ninja onto the battlefield along with the aforementioned costs (facepalm). Thanks for clearing that up :)
#3 • Date: 2013-06-17 • Time: 06:50:16 •
Regarding stalling, would it be stalling to have the potential to kill the opponent but simply play some spells etc and pass the turn? Or would it just be stalling to stare at the board for no reason?
#4 • Date: 2013-06-29 • Time: 03:55:16 •
As long as you're making legal plays and taking a reasonable amount of time to do it, you're not stalling. No tournament official has the authority to tell you "okay, you need to go ahead and attack for lethal instead of just playing guys and passing".
#5 • Date: 2013-07-01 • Time: 09:59:02 •

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