Published on 07/15/2013

Core's Coming

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

The cat's in the cradle
Greetings! It's the Monday after the Magic 2014 prerelease, which means it's time for our M14 prerelease special! Magic 2014 is the fifth core set named for, approximately, the year of its release. The first such core set four years ago came with a long list of rules changes that were sure to kill Magic, but since Magic is still very much alive, rules manager Matt Tabak is trying again this year with a bunch of rules changes that come along with Magic 2014. Those changes already went into effect last Saturday even though M14 won't be tournament legal until Friday, and I'm not covering all of those changes in this article, so you might want to have a look at Matt's article about those changes if you haven't done so already.

Speaking of things you should take a look at, there's the Magic 2014 FAQ that's full of helpful information about this new set and the cards that are in it. Along with a new generation of Slivers, M14 sports some intriguing top-down designs that are sure to resonate with players both old and new, and the FAQ explains many of the tricky interactions that come up in this set.

As always, if you have questions you'd like us to answer, please send an email to or tweet to us at @CranialTweet. You will receive a direct response from one of our writers, and your question might even appear in one of our future articles.

Now, without further ado, let us jump into M14!

Q: Can I copy Elite Arcanist's enter-the-battlefield with Strionic Resonator? And if so, what happens when I activate its copy-and-cast ability?

A: It is a triggered ability, so you can copy it. Both the copy and the original will allow you to exile an instant card from your hand. If you do that for both triggers, there will be two cards exiled with Elite Arcanist. When you go to activate Elite Arcanist's ability, it asks the exiled cards what their converted mana cost is. Both cards give an answer and Elite Arcanist adds the answers together, so you have to pay equal to both cards' converted mana costs. When the ability resolves, you may copy and cast both cards in an order of your choice.

Q: What happens if I exile a split card with Elite Arcanist?

A: Something less than awesome. Just as in the previous question, Elite Arcanist gets two answers and adds them together when it asks for the exiled card's converted mana cost, so you have to pay equal to both halves' converted mana costs. However, when you cast the copy of the card, you can only choose one half to cast, so you're only getting one spell for the price of two.

Q: Can I copy Aurelia, the Warleader's ability with Strionic Resonator?

A: Sure, that's legal, but the result is a bit weird. Both the copy and the original ability will resolve during the first combat phase, so all your creatures get untapped twice right now, and then you get two extra combat phases. Any creatures that you tap to attack with in the second combat phase won't become untapped then, so unless you have a lot of creatures with vigilance, the third combat phase will be of little use to you.

Q: Does copying Vastwood Hydra's dies ability with Strionic Resonator do anything useful?

A: I'd say so. The copy of the ability has the same source as the original ability, so it sees the same number of counters that the original ability sees. This means that you get to distribute twice as many counters as there were on the Hydra when it died.

Q: Can I use Strionic Resonator to make Voracious Wurm enter with twice as many counters?

A: No, that doesn't work. Strionic Resonator only copies triggered abilities, and the reminder text helpfully points out how to identify triggered abilities: They use the words "when," "whenever," or "at." Voracious Wurm's ability is not a triggered ability; it is a static ability that replaces how the Wurm enters the battlefield.

Q: I control a Battle Sliver and two 1/1 Sliver tokens, so the Battle Sliver is 5/3 and my tokens are 3/1. If I attack with all of them and my opponent blocks Battle Sliver with something that will kill it, do my tokens deal 1 damage each or 3 damage each?

A: They'll deal 3 damage unless first strike or double strike is involved. In the absence of first strike or double strike, all damage is assigned simultaneously and then dealt simultaneously. At the moment the damage is assigned, your Battle Sliver is not dead yet, so it still gives its bonus to your Sliver tokens at that time.

I believe I can fly...
Q: I control a Galerider Sliver and a Megantic Sliver. My opponent casts Turn on my Galerider Sliver. Does my Megantic Sliver still have flying?

A: No, your Megantic Sliver will come tumbling to the ground. Turn's ability-removing effect and Galerider Sliver's ability-granting effect both apply in layer 6. Galerider Sliver's effect is dependent on Turn's effect because Turn's effect changes the existence of Galerider Sliver's effect. Therefore, Turn's effect is applied first even though it is more recent, and then Galerider Sliver's effect doesn't exist and doesn't apply.

Q: If I control two Thorncaster Slivers, do my Slivers shoot 2 points of damage when they attack?

A: Yup! Each Thorncaster Sliver gives each of your Slivers a triggered ability, for a total of two such abilities. When a Sliver you control attacks, each ability triggers and resolves independently, for a total of 2 points of damage.

Q: If I control two Manaweft Slivers, do all my Slivers tap for two mana each now?

A: Nope! While your Slivers will gain two instances of an activated ability that allows it to make mana, having two instances of that ability is not any better than just having one instance of it. The difference to Thorncaster Sliver is that multiple triggered abilities can be triggered by the same event, but each activated ability has to have its cost paid separately. Once you pay the activation cost for the first ability to make mana, you can't tap the Sliver again to activate the second ability.

Q: My Sentinel Sliver is enchanted with Indestructibility and my opponent tries to kill it with a fused Turn // Burn. Does it die?

A: I'm afraid so. Until recently, being indestructible was not a keyword, so this interaction would have worked differently then, but now indestructible is a keyword ability, and Indestructibility grants that keyword ability to the enchanted creature. Turn removes that ability, so there's nothing stopping the Sliver's destruction from the lethal Burn damage it receives.

Q: What's the difference between "can't be blocked" as seen on M14's Phantom Warrior and "is unblockable" as seen on older printings of Phantom Warrior and Invisible Stalker?

A: There is no difference! The word "unblockable" suffered from being mistaken for a keyword ability, much like indestructible was mistaken for a keyword ability before it became one, which caused confusing interactions in conjunction with ability-removing effects. However, unlike indestructible, unblockable couldn't easily be made a keyword because there are many different kinds of conditional "can't be blocked" effects, so it was changed to the "can't be blocked" wording that does exactly the same thing but is unlikely to be mistaken for a keyword ability.

Q: Can I exile a creature indefinitely by killing or bouncing Banisher Priest in response to its enter-the-battlefield ability?

A: No, that doesn't work. Similar to continuous effects with a duration that ends before it begins, a zone change with a duration doesn't do anything if the duration ends before the first zone change happens.

Q: My Banisher Priest exiled one of my opponent's creatures. If he kills my Priest with a fused Turn // Burn, does he get his creature back?

A: Yes. Returning the exiled creature is an effect that was already created back when the Priest's enter-the-battlefield ability resolved. Removing the ability that created this effect doesn't prevent it from happening when the Priest leaves the battlefield.

Q: My opponent controls Pyromancer's Gauntlet and tries to Shock me for 4 damage. If I respond with Pay No Heed and choose Shock, does Shock still deal 2 damage to me?

A: No, Shock won't deal any damage. As Shock resolves, there are two replacement/prevention effects that want to change how Shock affects you. As the affected player, you choose one of those to apply. If you apply Pay No Heed's effect first, Shock would no longer deal any damage, so the Gauntlet's effect is no longer applicable. If you apply the Gauntlet's effect first, Pay No Heed's effect is still applicable afterwards and prevents the increased damage. In either case, the damage is prevented.

Q: Can I sacrifice a creature token to Shadowborn Demon?

A: Sure, creature tokens are creatures, and the Demon doesn't specify that it only eats nontoken creatures, so a creature token will serve adequately as a delicious snack for a peckish Demon. However, much like cotton candy, the token will disappear right after the Demon has eaten it, so the token won't count towards the "six creature cards in your graveyard clause" and the Demon will be just as peckish on your next upkeep.

Q: Can I have as many Shadowborn Apostles in my Commander deck as I want?

A: Yes. The ability on Shadowborn Apostle is the same as that on Relentless Rats, which overrides the deck construction rules for Commander according to a ruling by the Commander Rules Committee, so the same ruling applies to Shadowborn Apostle.

Q: My opponent and I each control a Scavenging Ooze. If I activate my Ooze's card-exiling ability and my opponent responds by trying to exile the same card, what happens?

A: Unless you have the mana to activate the ability again, your opponent's Ooze wins that showdown. The card is only exiled when the ability resolves, so your opponent can target the same card that you targeted, and his ability resolves first. That leaves your ability high and dry without a legal target, so it's countered on resolution and does nothing.

Q: I flash back Molten Birth with the help of a Snapcaster Mage. If I win the coin flip, where does Molten Birth go?

A: It'll be exiled. When a card is cast with flashback, that creates a replacement effect that exiles the card if it would leave the stack for any zone that's not the exile zone. Your hand is not the exile zone, so Molten Birth's trip to your hand is replaced with a trip to the exile zone.

Q: Can I use Time Ebb to return a creature from my graveyard to the top of my library?

A: No, you can't do that with Time Ebb. Time Ebb can only target a creature, and creatures only exist on the battlefield. A creature in the graveyard would be a creature card, and a spell or ability that can target a creature card in a graveyard will state this quite clearly, such as Corpse Hauler for example.

Q: I control a creature with Illusionary Armor on it and my opponent targets the creature with a spell. If I counter the spell, do I still have to sacrifice the Armor?

A: Yes. The Armor's ability already triggered when your creature became the target of your opponent's spell. Countering the spell won't counter the ability or retroactively "untrigger" the ability, so the ability will still resolve and make you sacrifice the Armor.

Q: I control Primeval Bounty and cast Guardian of the Ages. Does that count as both a creature and a noncreature spell?

A: Nice try, but no. "Noncreature" doesn't mean "having a type other than creature." It means "not having the type creature," so being a creature spell and being a noncreature spell is mutually exclusive.

Q: If I like Llanowar Elves more, can I use them as proxies for Elvish Mystic since they do the same thing anyway?

A: No. Even though they do the same thing, their names are different, so the cards are not interchangeable with each other.

That's all the time we have for today. Please come back next week when Eli presents us with a sliver of pie... or does he mean a Sliver Pie? I guess we'll find out next week!

- 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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