Published on 08/12/2013

Robots versus Monsters

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Mechanical frogs say "robot".
No, the new Duel Deck (which is Heroes vs. Monsters) isn't out yet. It's just summertime, which is the traditional time of year for very silly movies full of robots, monsters, and things getting all explode-y. But of course I can't spend all my time at the movie theater, so in between giant things smashing and blowing up, let's take a moment to answer some rules questions!

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: I have Dismiss into Dream and my opponent has a Kalonian Hydra. If I cast Tezzeret's Gambit and choose the Hydra as a target for proliferate, it'll get sacrificed, right?

A: Unfortunately, your opponent's monster Hydra will just get, well, more monstrous. The rules definition for proliferate doesn't use the word "target" anywhere, so proliferate doesn't target anything, and won't trigger Dismiss into Dream.

Q: With Pyromancer's Gauntlet, if I cast Flames of the Fireband targeting three of my opponent's creatures, does it end up dealing 3 damage to each of them?

A: Yup! When you cast Flames of the Firebrand, you choose the targets and the way the damage will be divided among them (at least 1 damage per target). Then when it resolves, Pyromancer's Gauntlet sees what's going on, and says "add 2 damage to each of those", for a total of 3 damage per target if you're targeting three creatures.

Q: I'm attacking my opponent with a Wind Drake, enchanted with Illusionary Armor. My opponent casts Savage Summoning and then flashes in Banisher Priest, targeting my Wind Drake. Does the Illusionary Armor get exiled? Does it come back when the Drake does?

A: Well, the moment Banisher Priest's ability is put on the stack targeting your Drake, Illusionary Armor's ability triggers; that will resolve first, and Illusionary Armor will be sacrificed. Then the Priest's ability resolves, and the Drake gets exiled. If it were some other Aura that doesn't sacrifice itself this way, the Aura would just momentarily exist, unattached to anything, on the battlefield, and then state-based actions would send it straight to the graveyard.

Q: If I activate Chandra, Pyromaster's second ability, and reveal a land, can I play it?

A: Whenever a card's up-to-date wording talking about letting you "play" a card, it means it doesn't know in advance whether the card it'll be dealing with is a land or a spell. The "play" wording basically means "if it turns out to be a spell, cast it, and if it turns out to be a land, play it". So you can play a land exiled with Chandra's ability, though you'll still have to obey all the normal rules for playing lands: only during your main phase, only when the stack is empty, and only if you haven't already used up all your land plays for the turn (Chandra doesn't give you an extra one).

Going to need a bigger flyswatter...
Q: If I have Young Pyromancer out and cast an instant or sorcery, do I still get a token if my spell is countered?

A: Yup! "Cast" refers only to the process of getting your spell onto the stack, usually by choosing targets, paying costs and so on. Anything that triggers on casting only cares that you managed to do that — it doesn't pay attention at all to what happens to the spell afterward. So even if all your spells get countered, you'll still have some tokens from Young Pyromancer as consolation.

Q: I've got Domestication on one of my opponent's creatures, but he just played something I'd rather take. If I have a Flickerwisp in hand, is there any way I can use it to move the Domestication over to his other creature?

A: Sure — you can target Domestication with Flickerwisp's ability. When Domestication returns from exile at the beginning of the next end step, you'll be able to choose what it enchants, and you don't have to put it back on the same creature as before.

Q: I have Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, but I'm out of cards in my library. If I cast a Rite of Replication on Kozilek and choose to let the legend rule get rid of the token, will my graveyard still shuffle into my library?

A: Yes indeed! Tokens cease to exist almost immediately after they leave the battlefield, but their brief soon-to-be-ended existence lasts just long enough for any relevant abilities to trigger. So a token copy of Kozilek does hit the graveyard, and its ability will trigger and shuffle all the cards in the graveyard back into the library, even though the token will have gone "poof" already by the time that happens.

Q: I'm attacking with Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts. Can my opponent block with Blood Baron of Vizkopa since the Baron has protection from Teysa's abilities?

A: Protection stops four things: damage, enchanting/equipping, blocking and targeting (when in doubt, remember the acronym: DEBT). Teysa's abilities don't try to do anything to Blood Baron, so Blood Baron's protection from white and black doesn't shut off Teysa's protection. And her protection means she can't be blocked by any creature at all.

Q: There used to be an infinite combo you could do with two copies of Sharuum the Hegemon, where between the legend rule and their own triggered abilities they'd die and return as many times as you wanted (useful for triggering enters-the-battlefield abilties of other things, like Glassdust Hulk). Does that still work with the new legend rule?

A: It does! It's just a little bit slower since only one Sharuum dies each time. But here's how it works: with one Sharuum out, cast another. It enters and its ability triggers, but before you put the ability on the stack (which is when you choose a target), the legend rule kicks in and tells you to put a Sharuum in the graveyard. So you choose one, it goes to the 'yard, and then you put the enters-the-battlefield ability on the stack and choose a target... which will be the Sharuum that just died. When it returns, repeat the process. You can do this as many times as you like.

Q: If the only creatures I control are two Demonic Taskmasters, what happens in my upkeep?

A: Demons are indeed harsh taskmasters, and you'll end up sacrificing both of them. When a card refers to itself by name, it just means "this specific game object"; it doesn't mean any other things which happen to share its name (for that, an effect will say something like "a card named...", or "a creature named..."). So each Taskmaster is effectively saying "sacrifice a creature other than me", and the only way to satisfy that is by sacrificing both.

Q: My opponent animated and is attacking with a Gideon, Champion of Justice, with 7 loyalty counters. If I cast Skullcrack and then block with my 8/8 Kalonian Hydra, what happens?

A: Well, first of all there's a conflict here between Gideon's ability — which says to prevent all damage dealt to him — and Skullcrack saying damage can't be prevented. In Magic, "can't" always beats "can", so damage to Gideon won't be prevented. The Hydra will deal 8 damage to Gideon; since he's both a creature and a planeswalker, the damage has the results for both of those card types. 8 damage is marked on Gideon (the result for a creature), and 8 loyalty counters are removed from Gideon (the result for a planeswalker). Gideon is still indestructible, so the damage doesn't destroy him, but as a planeswalker with no loyalty counters the planeswalker rules will send him straight to the graveyard.

Q: My opponent is trying to build himself a big monster, and he's got Rancor on a Slippery Bogle. Now he's casting a Daybreak Coronet on it too. If I Naturalize the Rancor in response, what happens to the Coronet?

A: Daybreak Coronet, like every Aura spell, is targeted when cast as a spell. And the set of legal targets is restricted by the "enchant" line in its text box. In this case, Daybreak Coronet is now targeting a creature that doesn't have an Aura on it; that means the Bogle is an illegal target, and Daybreak Coronet is countered by the game's rules.

Q: I've cast a few spells this turn, so my Nivix Cyclops is already kinda big. If I then Fling it, will its trigger resolve in time to get one last +3/+0?

A: It won't, because its ability won't even trigger a final time. Nivix Cyclops is sacrificed during the process of casting Fling, but a "Whenever you cast" ability won't trigger until you finish the process of casting. So the Cyclops is no longer around at that point, and its ability won't see or trigger for the Fling being cast.

Smash a robot and a monster together, and you get...
Q: If Hesitation triggers, and then another spell is cast in response to the trigger, will Hesitation counter both spells? Or only the one it actually gets sacrificed for?

A: It will counter both! For a while, Hesitation's official wording was changed to make it only counter one spell; about a year and a half ago, though, it was changed back to be more in line with its original wording. That means the sacrifice and the countering are not tied to each other; if Hesitation triggers multiple times, it will counter all the spells that triggered it (if possible — some spells can't be countered, of course), even though it only gets sacrificed once.

Q: I control Garruk's Packleader and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. I cast Maelstrom Wanderer. What happens, exactly?

A: This is simpler than it sounds. When you cast Maelstrom Wanderer, four abilities trigger simultaneously: Maelstrom Wanderer's two instances of cascade, and Momir's two abilities. Since you control all four, you choose the order in which to put them on the stack, and then resolve them in order last to first. So you can do all sorts of things — you can search a creature up, put it on top, draw it, and then cascade twice, for example. Or you can search up a creature to put on top, and have cascade resolve next and cast it for you. So just figure out the order you want, do it, handle any other triggers that come up — say, if you cascaded into another creature that re-triggers Momir — and then finally Maelstrom Wanderer will enter the battlefield, trigger Garruk's Packleader, and you'll draw a card.

Q: OK, so speaking of Maelstrom Wanderer, how does its cascade ability interact with the "commander tax"?

A: It doesn't. The extra mana you pay to re-cast Maelstrom Wanderer from the command zone doesn't change its converted mana cost (in fact, no additional or alternative cost will change a spell's converted mana cost). So even if you're paying 10 or 12 or 14 mana for the Wanderer, you'll still only cascade until you hit something with a CMC less than 8.

Q: If I control Hedron Crab and Oracle of Mul Daya, and I play a land from the top of my library, will I see what the next card is before deciding who to target with Hedron Crab's triggered ability?

A: Yup. There's no rules-based delay between one card moving off the top of your library to the next one being revealed, even though it takes a moment in real life to do that. So when you're choosing a target for Hedron Crab's ability, you'll already know what your new top card is.

Q: If my opponent searched his library this turn, and I have Archive Trap in my graveyard, can I cast Snapcaster Mage, target the trap, and then flash it back for zero mana?

A: It's a trap! Just not the kind you were hoping for; Archive Trap ends up with two alternative costs on it (the one it has naturally, plus flashback), but you can only apply one alternative cost to any given spell. And since flashback is the only alternative cost that also carries a permission to cast the Trap from your graveyard, the flashback cost — which is — is the one you'll have to pay.

Q: If I control Archangel of Thune and Child of Night, and attack with both, how many +1/+1 counters do I put on my creatures when combat damage is dealt?

A: Two. You had two life-gain events — one from Archangel's lifelink, one from Child of Night's lifelink — happen, so Archangel of Thune triggers twice and each creature you control (that's still alive post-damage) will get 2 shiny new +1/+1 counters.

Q: My opponent controls 3 artifacts, one of which is Etched Champion. If I overload Vandalblast, will the Champion be destroyed?

A: Yup! Overload removes all instances of the word "target" from the spell's text, so Vandalblast no longer targets anything and the Champion's protection doesn't see anything to prevent.

Q: If I cast Unexpected Results and hit Tooth and Nail, can I entwine it?

A: You can! "Without paying its mana cost" means you don't pay for the mana symbols in the upper right-hand corner (and if there's an X up there, X=0). It's also an alternative cost, so you can't use any other alternative costs (like overload). But you're perfectly free to pay any additional costs like entwine if you want to (and for mandatory additional costs, like Fling's, you don't even get a choice), so you can fetch yourself up a couple of nice huge monsters and put them onto the battlefield.

Q: In my main phase I activate Garruk, Caller of Beasts' first ability, and in response my opponent flashes in Notion Thief. If I reveal three creature cards from Garruk, what happens to them? Do they go to the bottom since I don't get to draw them?

A: They go into your hand, and your opponent doesn't draw any cards. Only your normal once-per-turn draw in your draw step, and things that specifically use the word "draw", are card drawing. Plenty of other things can put cards into your hand without using the word "draw", like Garruk's ability, and Notion Thief doesn't interfere with those in any way.

Q: I control Shadowborn Demon and only have 5 creature cards in my graveyard. In my upkeep, can I use Millstone to try to get up to 6 and avoid sacrificing?

A: You can! You can't prevent Shadowborn Demon's ability from triggering if you had fewer than 6 creatures in the 'yard when your upkeep began, but you can respond to the trigger. And Shadowborn Demon's trigger checks its condition when it triggers and again when it tries to resolve. If you've gotten to 6 or more creature cards in your graveyard by then, the ability doesn't make you sacrifice.

That's all I've got for this week; feel free to smash some robots and monsters into each other at your local tournaments, and check back next week for another issue 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.

17th question : There is a rule-based delay between moving the card on top and revealing the next during the process of casting a spell. For example, you won't get to know the next card when deciding whether to use deranged assistant when casting a spell via future sight.
#1 • Date: 2013-08-12 • Time: 04:06:29 •
12th: Question (Coronet): By reacting on the csting of coronet, the coronet will \'fizzle\' as stated in the question. However, it is also possible to let the coronet resolve and then destroy the rancor if for example you drew naturalize from the top of the library. Doing this will result in the coroner falling off, since it has an illegal target (watch out for flash auras!)
#2 • Date: 2013-08-12 • Time: 05:29:25 •
@rusje: You're partially right in saying the coroner will fall off - it will, bit not because its and illegal target, as auras only target when cast, not after they resolve and are enchanting. It will still fall off, but the correct reason is because it is then enchanting an illegal object. This is important because a new player thinking an aura always targets wouldn't know that a creature given shroud after its enchanted and keep the aura, or that a creature with shroud could be enchanted through something like Sun Titans ability which attaches the aura without the cast - and thus target - part.
#3 • Date: 2013-08-12 • Time: 06:17:54 •
@sarroth: You're right. I did not know how to put it in words, and you said it correctly. My use of target is misleading, apologies.
#4 • Date: 2013-08-12 • Time: 12:01:16 •
Could we get a confirmation on Coro\'s example? I know it\'s working this way on Magic Online but does it apply to paper Magic as well? Reading the corresponding section in the CompRules I couldn\'t find anything to support it.

Nevermind, finally found in in section 401.6

Last edited on 2013-08-12 13:11:55 by OttmarKeil
#5 • Date: 2013-08-12 • Time: 13:02:58 •
Re: Coronet... Based on the comments, does that mean that a Coronet will immediately fall off a target that doesn't have an aura attached to it after it's already been successfully attached?
#6 • Date: 2013-08-13 • Time: 13:51:01 •
That's right. The set of legal objects an Aura can be attached to is defined by its "Enchant (blah)" ability. If the creature no longer has "another Aura attached to it", it's no longer a legal object for Daybreak Coronet to be attached to.
#7 • Date: 2013-08-14 • Time: 06:42:39 •
It's Flames of the Fire Brand, with an 'r'. :)
#8 • Date: 2013-08-24 • Time: 21:08:04 •

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