Published on 05/07/2012

My Angel's Back

(and you're gonna be in trouble)

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

She's been gone for such a long time...
She went away, and you hung around, and bothered me every full moon. And when I wouldn't join your cult, you did things that weren't very nice. But now...

As I'm finishing this article, prerelease weekend has just wrapped up and the floor's littered with seals from the Helvault. By the time you read this, Avacyn Restored will be on the shelves and flights of angels will be taking to the skies at tournaments around the world. So, since hope's been restored to the people of Innistrad, let's restore some hope to this world by answering 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: So I've got a creature with a Moonsilver Spear equipped; when I attack with it, do I get the Angel token in time to animate Angel's Tomb and attack with that too?

A: Nope. Moonsilver Spear's triggered ability will go on the stack after you've finished declaring your attacking creatures, so the angel in the Tomb will wake up just a bit too late.

Q: I have Avacyn, Angel of Hope and a Silverblade Paladin that's unpaired. I cast a Cloudshift on Avacyn so I can pair them up, but my opponent Shocked the Paladin in response; will the Paladin die since it won't be indestructible anymore when Avacyn flickers off the battlefield?

A: Nope! A creature that's taken lethal damage usually gets destroyed by state-based actions, which are checked when a player would get priority, not during the resolution of a spell. Players will get priority after Shock resolves, but Avacyn will still be on the field and the Paladin will be indestructible. And Avacyn's quick little vacation to the exile zone takes place entirely during the resolution of Cloudshift, so when players get priority after that she'll be on the battlefield again and the Paladin will still be indestructible and ready to become BFFs with her.

Q: If I cast Primal Surge and hit two copies of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, will my opponent's creatures get -4/-4, or will the legend rule kill both Elesh Norns before state-based actions get checked?

A: Lucky for you, the "legend rule" is a state-based action, and when we get around to applying those (after Primal Surge has completely finished resolving) we apply all of them simultaneously. So both Cenobites will die, but so will anything your opponent controlled that had 4 or less toughness to start with.

Q: I've got a Riders of Gavony, and my opponent wants to Crib Swap my Champion of the Parish. The Riders will stop that since no matter what type I chose it's a creature type Crib Swap has, right?

A: Sadly, no. Riders of Gavony gives your Humans protection from creatures of the chosen type. Even though a tribal instant like Crib Swap has creature types (all of them, in this case), it's not a creature, and so your Champion's going to become a bouncing baby changeling.

Now she's back and things'll be fine!
Q: Say I control Angel of Jubilation and cast Killing Wave. Every creature gets sacrificed since nobody can pay life for spells, right?

A: I'm afraid you're going to be a bit less jubilant than you'd hoped. Angel of Jubilation won't let anyone pay life to cast spells or activate abilities, but that's not what's going on here. Paying life isn't a cost to cast Killing Wave, and it doesn't have any activated abilities (those are always worded "cost: effect" — when in doubt, look for the colon), so Angel of Jubilation won't interfere with it at all.

Q: If my opponent controls a planeswalker, and chooses to take 4 damage to make me sacrifice my Vexing Devil, can I have that damage be dealt to his planeswalker? If I do that do I still sacrifice the Devil, since the damage wasn't dealt to my opponent?

A: You can. Vexing Devil deals damage, and it's not combat damage. And any time something you control would deal non-combat damage to an opponent, you're allowed to redirect that damage to a planeswalker that opponent controls. You'll still sacrifice your Devil, though; what counts is the choice your opponent made, not where the damage actually ended up. So perhaps in this case both of you will wind up slightly vexed.

Q: I have a Cavern of Souls naming Angel, and tap it for white mana to cast Emancipation Angel. My opponent responds with Geist Snatch; is that even legal?

A: Yup. Cavern of Souls doesn't prevent people from trying to counter, it just says they won't succeed at it. So Geist Snatch will do as much as it can; it can't counter the Angel, but it will produce the 1/1 token.

Q: I have a Hanweir Lancer paired with Archangel and attack with both. The Lancer gets blocked and killed by a Haunted Guardian; since Archangel doesn't have first strike anymore, will she get to deal damage again with the other non-first-striking creatures?

A: Nope. While it's true that your Archangel doesn't have first strike anymore, rule 510.5 specifies that the only creatures that get to deal damage in the second combat damage step are the ones which have double strike, and the ones that didn't have first strike or double strike when the first combat damage step started. So your Archangel will just sit and twiddle her thumbs and reminisce about the good times she had with her buddy from Hanweir.

Q: I cast a Misthollow Griffin out of exile, and my opponent counters it. Where does the Griffin go?

A: To your graveyard. While some types of effects tell a card to go somewhere else (flashback says to exile, for example), the Griffin doesn't say anything special about where to put it. So it goes to the default location for countered spells, which is its owner's graveyard.

Q: I don't understand Necrobite. What's the point of giving the creature deathtouch when regenerating will remove it from combat?

A: Regeneration is pretty tricky (and pretty widely misunderstood); it doesn't actually do anything right away. Instead, it just creates a "shield" that hangs around for the rest of the turn, waiting to step in at a moment when the creature would be destroyed, and then it replaces that destruction with the usual effects (tapping, removing all damage, removing from combat). So most of the time (barring a removal spell, or shenanigans with first/double strike), the creature that's been Necrobitten won't actually use up that shield (and thus get removed from combat) until after it's had a chance to deal its combat damage.

Q: So, I drew a card with miracle as my first card of the turn. But it was from a Desperate Ravings, and I ended up discarding it. If I have some way to give it flashback before the miracle trigger resolves, say with Snapcaster Mage, is there any way I can cast it from my graveyard for its miracle cost?

A: Not quite. For one thing, the card in your graveyard — since it's changed zones — is no longer the same game object the miracle trigger was tracking, so the miracle trigger no longer recognizes it. Plus, flashback and miracle both create alternative costs for a spell; you only ever get to apply one alternative cost to a single spell, and flashback is the only one giving you permission to cast from your graveyard. So no matter what, the flashback cost is the cost you'd need to pay to do that.

Q: So I have Griselbrand, and my opponent casts Day of Judgment. I've got Cloudshift in my hand, and I know that can save him from something like a Go For the Throat; will it also save him from this?

A: No, Griselbrand is going to get the judgment he so richly deserves. Cloudshift and similar effects can save a creature from targeted removal, since the creature becomes a different game object when it flickers away to exile and back, making whatever was targeting it lose track. But spells like Day of Judgment just do what they do to every creature that happens to be on the battlefield when they resolve. And in this case, Griselbrand will be back from his Cloudshift excursion and on the battlefield to be judged along with everything else.

Q: Does Arcane Melee reduce the cost of spells I cast with flashback? What about spells with kicker costs?

A: As long as they're instant or sorcery spells, yup! With flashback you're casting the spell (just from an unusual place), so Arcane Melee will reduce what you pay for it. And cost reductions are applied after you've already tallied up the full mana cost of a spell plus any additional costs, so it can reduce what you pay for a kicked spell, too.

You're gonna be sorry you were ever born
Q: If I have Nearheath Pilgrim paired with another creature, they attack and the Pilgrim gets blocked by a 2/2 and killed. Will I still gain life from the other creature?

A: Yup. Unless there's first strike or double strike involved, all combat damage happens simultaneously. And lifelink causes life gain simultaneous with damage being dealt. So even if the Pilgrim dies shortly after it and its buddy have dealt their damage, you'll already have gained the life.

Q: If I have Unhallowed Pact on my Treacherous Pit-Dweller, what happens when it dies? Do I get to keep it?

A: Nope, and this is why you shouldn't trust treacherous demons! When the Pit-Dweller dies, Unhallowed Pact's ability will trigger. The Pit-Dweller's undying ability might also trigger if it didn't have a +1/+1 counter on it. Either way, it'll be returned to the battlefield under your control, at which point it'll notice that it just came from a graveyard, triggering its "give me away" ability. When that ability resolves, your Pit-Dweller will run over to someone else's control.

Q: If I respond to my Fiend Hunter's enters-the-battlefield ability by flashing in Restoration Angel and flickering the Fiend Hunter, will the creature I targeted get exiled permanently?

A: It will! This is basically just a new twist on an old trick; the Fiend Hunter's leaves-the-battlefield ability triggers before its enters-the-battlefield ability has exiled anything, so it doesn't do anything. And since the Fiend Hunter is a brand-new game object after it "flickers", it won't have any memory of what eventually gets exiled by the original instance of its first ability.

You'll even get to exile a second creature since the Fiend Hunter's enters-the-battlefield ability triggers again, but that creature will get to come back if the Fiend Hunter leaves the battlefield again later on.

Q: I have Vigilante Justice, but my opponent controls Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. If I cast Gather the Townsfolk, will my tokens go straight to the graveyard, or will I get to deal damage with Vigilante Justice?

A: You'll get some damage out of this. The tokens will enter the battlefield, then die immediately, then cease to exist immediately after that. But they did enter the battlefield, even if they didn't stick around for very long, so Vigilante Justice will trigger and deal 1 damage per token.

Q: My opponent cast Rain of Thorns targeting one of my lands. In response I used Liquimetal Coating to turn the land into an artifact; does that counter Rain of Thorns since my opponent didn't choose the "destroy an artifact" mode?

A: Liquimetal Coating can do a lot of fun tricks, but unfortunately this isn't one of them. Rain of Thorns targeting a land doesn't pay attention to any other types its target has; it just cares whether it's still a land. And Liquimetal Coating just adds a type; it doesn't replace or remove any, so your shiny new artifact is also still a land, and will get rained on just the same.

Q: If I cast a creature with soulbond, can I stack the triggers from it and my Angel's Tomb so that the animated Tomb will get to pair with it?

A: Yes, but only if you control another unpaired creature; soulbond's a bit quirky, and won't trigger at all, unless you control another unpaired creature at the time the one with soulbond enters the battlefield. If you do, though, it'll work — you can choose the order in which the soulbond and the Angel's Tomb abilities are put on the stack, which lets you have the Tomb animate in time to pair up.

Of course, at the end of the turn they'll both have to set their relationship status to "it's complicated", since the Tomb won't be a creature anymore and their soulbond will be broken.

Q: If I control Wild Defiance and my opponent casts Whipflare, will my nonartifact creatures all get +3/+3 since they're being targeted?

A: Nope. A spell or ability only targets something if it uses the word "target" to refer to that thing, or if it's an Aura being cast (those are defined by the rules for the "enchant" keyword to be targeted). Anything else doesn't target, so Wild Defiance won't see anything being targeted and won't trigger.

I think Moko's appetite for brains has been satisfied for another week, so I'll call it quits for now. Here's hoping you had a divine time at Avacyn Restored prerelease events, and don't forget to check back next week when Carsten will have 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.

Great article for a somewhat mediocre set. I read it with the \"Hide answer\" mode that you can set if you subscribe and it really is changing the way your read it as it allows you to think about the answer before you go and read it. Very good idea gentlemen.
#1 • Date: 2012-05-07 • Time: 10:47:49 •
I have a little gameplay problem with Desperate Ravings and miracle. last week, eli said:
"You need to reveal your miracle before it's remotely confusable with your hand; if it touches the rest of the cards at all it's too late"
So, i reveal the miracle, draw the second...and? How do you randomize your hand if the cards are not allowed to touch? What if i have a 2nd one of the same miracle spell in my hand? How do you determine which one was which, if the very definition of random prevents that?
...good job James, btw
#2 • Date: 2012-05-08 • Time: 06:29:41 •
The Hanweir Lancer/Archangel question confuses me. Don\'t all three creatures deal damage at the same time (due to all of them having first strike), only after which the Lancer and Guardian die, and the Archangel subsequently loses first strike?

Or does what I said above happen and is the word \'again\' the mistake of the question asker?
#3 • Date: 2012-05-08 • Time: 06:59:57 •
@reidan, you can always label the cards in your hand + the 2 that you just drew with numbers 1 - n. Then roll a dice that has more sides than card in your hand. You discard the number that you rolled and if you roll a number bigger than the cards in hand, you re-roll. You can also let your opponent roll if they don\'t trust you. :P

@Dread, The 3 creature do first strike damage at the same time during the first strike combat damage step. This is an *additional* step that is created by the game due to first strike or double strike abilities. But after Archangel loses first strike, it does not get to do damage in the regular combat damage step. This regular combat damage step still happens it doesn\'t just disappear.
#4 • Date: 2012-05-08 • Time: 09:07:32 •
You added the Spoiler tags! Whoohoo!!!! Thanks :)

Question about the Treacherous Pit-Dweller ruling - Let's assume it did not have a +1/+1 counter on it yet. Does it get one when it comes back on your opponent's side? I guess it depends on who cast the Unhallowed Pact, and whose turn it is?
#5 • Date: 2012-05-09 • Time: 08:15:08 •
cochlea: TPD does not "come back on opponent's side". If Undying happens to resolve first (which does indeed depend on who cast the Pact and whose turn it is), TPD comes back with a +1/+1 counter, notices that he entered via the graveyard and then he runs over to an opponent.
#6 • Date: 2012-05-09 • Time: 10:56:11 •
@misosoup7 stupid question: what if i don't have a dice? after all, they're not officially part of magic like couters are.
#7 • Date: 2012-05-12 • Time: 18:04:51 •
Zitat (reidan):
@misosoup7 stupid question: what if i don't have a dice? after all, they're not officially part of magic like couters are.

You can put a little slip of paper in the sleeve to mark that it's the miracle you just drew, shuffle them face down, and have an opponent pick one of them.
#8 • Date: 2012-05-13 • Time: 13:35:45 •
I know I'm super duper late to this (today I suddenly realized I forgot to read for the last several weeks), but I think I have an additional insight on the Angel of Jubilation / Killing Wave question. I think the asker was actually getting tripped up on a grammer & reading comprehension issue. He was interpreting the Angel's ability as "Players can't {pay life} or {sacrifice creatures to cast spells or activate abilities}." If he was missing the "cast spells or activate abilities" part, like how the answer assumes, then presumably he would have thought the Angel blanks the Wave completely.
#9 • Date: 2012-06-08 • Time: 13:31:28 •

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