Published on 02/03/2014

Born to be Wild

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Let's party!
Greetings and welcome to another issue of Cranial Insertion! It's the Monday after the Born of the Gods prerelease, so it's time for our Born of the Gods special! Xenagos has managed to get a promotion to God, and we'll pay tribute to an inspiring list of new keywords that are coming out in this set.

As always, you can pay tribute to Moko in the form of Magic rules questions. Please email your questions to or tweet them to @CranialTweet. You'll receive a direct answer from one of our writers, and your question might appear in a future issue.

Also, if you have any questions about Born of the Gods that aren't answered here, you might want to check out the Release Notes. The Release Notes cover many common questions, so it's worth a try!

Q: If I hit my opponent's Mutavaults with Bile Blight and then animate my own Mutavault, does my Mutavault die, too?

A: Nope, your Mutavault is safe. When Bile Blight resolves it sets up a continuous effect that locks in at that moment. After that point, it doesn't matter whether another creature named Mutavault pops up.

Q: My opponent casts a Flame-Wreathed Phoenix and I choose not to pay tribute. Can I kill it before it gains haste and the return-to-hand ability?

A: Sure. The Phoenix's haste and return-to-hand ability comes from the resolution of its enter-the-battlefield ability. That ability uses the stack, so you can respond to it with whatever creature-destroying instant you have available.

Q: Does Nightveil Specter count as 6 devotion for Phenax, God of Deception?

A: No. Devotion to blue and black does not mean devotion to blue plus devotion to black. Devotion to blue and black counts how many mana symbols in the mana cost of your permanents are blue and/or black. Each mana symbol that's one or both of those colors adds 1 to your devotion to blue and black, so Nightveil Specter adds "only" three to your devotion to blue and black.

Q: My opponent controls Phenax, God of Deception, Nightveil Specter, and enough other permanents to make his devotion to blue and black exactly 7. He taps Phenax to make me mill seven cards, and in response I kill the Specter. What happens?

A: A whole lot of nothing happens, and you have successfully averted being milled! When the ability resolves, it tries to find out what "this creature's toughness" is. "This creature" refers to Phenax even though it's no longer a creature, but since it's not a creature, it answers with a meaningful shrug when the game asks for its toughness. This shrug is interpreted as the number zero, so the ability mills zero cards.

Q: Okay, same setup as before, but now my opponent taps the Specter to make me mill three cards, and in response I blow up the Specter. What happens?

A: In that case you'll still have to mill. "This creature" now refers to the Nightveil Specter that just met its untimely demise. Since the game is asking for information about a specific object that is no longer in the zone it was expected to be, it looks at the last known information from when the Specter was last seen alive. At that time its toughness was 3, so the ability mills three cards.

Q: If I use Trait Doctoring to change "red" to "black" on Mogis, God of Slaughter, would Mogis count black mana symbols twice for devotion?

A: Nice try, but that doesn't work. After this text change, Mogis will check your devotion to "black and black." However, as we've seen in the Phenax question, this counts how many mana symbols in the mana costs of your permanents are black and/or black, so it's really no different from just your devotion to black.

Q: If I use Akroan Conscriptor's heroic ability to take my opponent's tapped Arbiter of the Ideal, who gets the inspired trigger from the Arbiter?

A: You do! Akroan Conscriptor first gives you control of the Arbiter and then untaps it, in that order. This means that you control the Arbiter at the time it becomes untapped, so you control its inspired trigger. What an inspired move!

Card advantage? What's that?
Q: My opponent controls a Spirit of the Labyrinth. I draw my card for my turn and then cast Electrolyze to burn away the annoying Spirit. Do I get to draw from Electrolyze?

A: Nope. Electrolyze's resolution doesn't actually destroy the Spirit. It only marks damage on the Spirit, and it leaves the dirty work of destroying the Spirit to the state-based action check. However, that state-based action check only happens after Electrolyze has finished resolving. At the time Electrolyze tells you to draw a card, the Spirit is still alive, albeit in terrible and soon-to-be-deadly pain, but alive enough to stop you from drawing a card.

Q: What happens if both my opponent and I control an Archetype of Imagination?

A: You will both find your creatures rather grounded in that case. Let's say for example that your Archetype entered the battlefield first, so its effect is applied first. This gives all your creatures flying, removes flying from your opponent's creatures, and sets up an effect that prohibits your opponent's creatures from gaining or having flying. Then your opponent's Archetype's effect is applied, so it tries and fails to give your opponent's creatures flying, and then it removes flying from your creatures and sets up an effect that prohibits your creatures from gaining or having flying.

Q: Can I control Xenagos, God of Revels and Xenagos, the Reveler at the same time?

A: Sure, that's no problem as far as the rules are concerned, and that's really the only thing that concerns us here. The legend rule only checks legendary permanents, which Xenagos the Planeswalker isn't, and the planeswalker uniqueness rule only checks planeswalkers, which Xenagos the Creature isn't, so there's no reason for either of them to go away. They'll just have to deal with any resulting time travel awkwardness by trying not to talk to each other.

Q: If I control Archetype of Courage, does that remove the first strike from my opponent's Ghostblade Eidolon so that it only deals normal combat damage?

A: Sorry, no such luck. While first strike and double strike are closely related abilities, they are distinct abilities, and double strike does not mean "first strike and normal strike." Ghostblade Eidolon doesn't have first strike, so Archetype of Courage doesn't remove any abilities from it.

Q: If I control Courser of Kruphix and I have a land card in my hand and one on top of my library, can I play both of them?

A: Not without additional help. Courser of Kruphix extends the zones from which you can play lands by allowing you to play a land from the top of your library, but it doesn't change how many lands you get to play each turn. That number is still only one, so you'll have to choose between playing the land from your hand or playing the land from your library.

Q: If I pull a Ghostblade Eidolon from my graveyard with Silent Sentinel's ability, can I bestow the Eidolon on one of my creatures?

A: No, that's not possible. A creature with bestow only becomes an Aura when it's cast for its bestow cost. In the case of Silent Sentinel, the card is not being cast at all, so there's no opportunity to pay the bestow cost or to turn the card into an Aura. The card will enter as what it naturally is: A standalone creature that's also an enchantment.

Q: Does Torpor Orb shut down tribute abilities?

A: A little bit no, but mostly yes. Tribute has two components: A replacement effect that changes how the creature enters the battlefield by asking your opponent to pay tribute, and a triggered ability that triggers when the creature enters the battlefield if tribute wasn't paid. Torpor Orb doesn't shut down the first half, so your opponent can still pay tribute if he wants to. However, Torpor Orb shuts down the triggered ability, so it won't trigger even if your opponent doesn't pay tribute.

Q: What's up with the triple-X cost for Astral Cornucopia? What happens if I cast it for ?

A: You can't cast it for . Spells with an in their mana cost don't work backwards from how much you paid. You choose a value for X, calculate the corresponding total cost, and then you pay the total cost. Since the cost has three Xs, you have to pay mana equal to three times the number of counters you want. In the absence of any cost-modifying effects, the only legal costs for Astral Cornucopia are for no counters, for one counter, for two counters, for three counters, and so on. (Do we even have a symbol for ? Apparently we do!)

Q: I attack with Tromokratis and one of my opponent's creatures is tapped. Can my opponent block Tromokratis with his untapped creatures?

A: Nope! Tromokratis's ability creates a blocking restriction, and the only way the defending player can fulfill the restriction is to block it with all their creatures. Since the defending player can't do that, he can't block Tromokratis at all.

Q: My opponent's creatures are all untapped, and I hit one of them with Culling Mark before I attack with Tromokratis. Is my opponent forced to block Tromokratis with all his creatures?

A: Yup! Tromokratis still creates the aforementioned blocking restriction, while Culling Mark creates a blocking requirement. Your opponent has to block in a way that fulfills as many requirements as possible without disobeying any restrictions. Blocking with just the Culling Marked creature fulfills the requirement, but it disobeys the restriction, so that's out. The only way to fulfill the requirement without disobeying the restriction is to send the entire team in to block the Kraken.

Q: If my Pillar of War is affected by an enchantment such as my Archetype of Courage, does that count as being enchanted?

A: Sadly, no. A creature is enchanted if there's an Aura attached to it. Being affected by an ability of a non-Aura enchantment is not enough.

Q: If I control Ragemonger, what are the legal ways to pay for Boros Reckoner?

A: When you cast a spell with a hybrid mana cost, one thing that happens early on in the casting process is that you choose for each hybrid mana symbol which half you'd like to pay. Later on, you determine the total cost by applying any applicable cost increases and reductions. If you choose the white half for all three symbols you end up paying . In any other case, you'll have a red mana symbol in the cost to reduce away, so the other possibilities are , , or .

Q: Can I regenerate Servant of Tymaret just to get it tapped so I'll get an inspired trigger next turn?

A: No, that doesn't work. Regenerating a creature doesn't tap that creature right away. It sets up a regeneration shield that'll protect (and tap) the creature the next time it would be destroyed, so the Servant would only become tapped if something were to try to destroy it. Until something tries to destroy it, it'll stay uninspiringly untapped.

Q: Can I cast Scouring Sands when my opponent controls no creatures just to scry?

A: Absolutely! Scouring Sands doesn't target any creatures, so it doesn't require any creatures. If your opponent doesn't control any creatures when Scouring Sands resolves, it won't deal any damage, and then it moves on to the scry instruction.

Q: Can I pay for Stormcaller of Keranos to scry 2?

A: No, the ability doesn't work like that. While you can activate the ability as often as you can pay its cost, each activation only lets you scry 1. Scrying 1 twice in a row is not as powerful as scry 2, especially if the top card of your library during the first scry is a card you want to keep on top of your library.

And that's all the time we have for today. Please come back next week when Eli presents more of Born of the Gods and other goodies!

- 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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