Published on 06/30/2014

Eternal Sunshine

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

It's good to be the king!
This really has been a fine month for Magic's eternal formats; a few weeks ago Conspiracy was released onto store shelves, bringing with it a mix of old favorites and new Vintage- and Legacy-legal toys. And now the online release of Vintage Masters is well underway, making it easier than ever (and genuinely possible for the first time, in the case of Vintage) to play the eternal formats online.

And, of course, one other thing is eternal — our love of answering rules questions. But we are eternally dependent on our readers for our supply, so 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: A few turns back in a multiplayer game I cast Eternal Dominion. Now there's a Hive Mind in play. After my next upkeep, will all of my opponents be locked out of casting spells for the rest of the game?

A: Hive Mind will only copy a spell you cast, and the copy of Eternal Dominion you're getting in each of your upkeeps isn't cast. Copies of spells are just created directly on the stack, bypassing the casting process, so Hive Mind won't trigger from your Eternal Dominion copies and your opponents won't be epically dominated.

Q: OK, so what if instead I set up the Hive Mind and then cast Slaughter Pact? Will that kill each of my opponents when their upkeeps roll around (assuming they can't pay for the Pact)?

A: The answer is "it depends". If your opponents all leave their copies of Slaughter Pact targeting the original creature, then only one of those copies will ever resolve (it will destroy the creature, and then the other copies, plus your original Pact, will all be countered due to now having an illegal target). And a Pact that never resolves is a Pact that never sets up its delayed "pay or lose" trigger. So at best (if your opponents are playing it smart and not choosing new targets for their copies) you'll knock out whichever player's copy resolved first. Since the copies are placed in the stack by players in turn order, with the last copy put on the stack resolving first, that'll be the opponent who's furthest away from getting a turn at the moment.

Q: My opponent cast Silence the Believers and paid for two additional targets. If I swap Perplexing Chimera for it, can I just pick one target when I'm changing the targets for Silence the Believers?

A: Well, you could leave one of the original targets unchanged, but you wouldn't be able to make Silence the Believers have only one target; when an effect lets you choose new targets for a spell or ability, it only lets you change the set of things being targeted, not the number of things being targeted (similarly, you wouldn't be able to change the mode(s) of a modal spell)

Q: My opponent controls Eidolon of the Great Revel, and I just revealed Entreat the Angels for its miracle ability. Do I have to choose at least X=2 to avoid triggering the Eidolon?

A: All you'll need is at least X=1. Effects that change what you actually pay for a spell (like the alternative cost provided by miracle) don't actually change the card's mana cost or converted mana cost, which will always be based on the symbols in the upper right of the card. So Entreat the Angels' mana cost is always and (plugging in the value of X), X=1 will get you a converted mana cost of 5, even if all you actually paid for it was .

Q: I control a creature enchanted with Gift of Immortality. If my opponent casts Planar Cleansing, will the Gift still return my creature?

A: It will! Whenever multiple permanents leave the battlefield simultaneously (as with Planar Cleansing destroying everything), they all see each other go. So Gift of Immortality sees its creature die, and its ability triggers and will return the creature to the battlefield.

Time just keeps dragon on
Q: If I cast Nivix Cyclops, then cast a Shock on my opponent, will Nivix Cyclops be able to attack?

A: Unfortunately, Nivix Cyclops' ability just says it can attack as though it didn't have defender, not that it can attack as though it didn't have summoning sickness. So although defender isn't holding it back, summoning sickness is, and the Cyclops still won't be able to attack.

Q: My opponent controls a Triskelion with 3 +1/+1 counters, and Experiment Kraj. If I name Triskelion with Pithing Needle, will Kraj still be able to pop counters off itself to deal damage?

A: It will — Experiment Kraj is the source of the abilities it picks up from other creatures, so the source of the ability is not a card named Triskelion, and Kraj will be able to load itself up with a counter, the pop it off for damage.

Q: I control an Elvish Mystic and a Scavenging Ooze. Could I block something with the Mystic, tap it for mana before it dies, and then use the mana to have Scavenging Ooze exile the Mystic from my graveyard?

A: You'll have to scavenge up the mana some other way; the last chance you'll have to activate the Mystic's ability before it dies is in the declare blockers step. Then your mana pool will empty before the combat damage step begins, which means that green mana will no longer be around after the Mystic dies.

Q: I have Trinisphere and Lodestone Golem. How much does my opponent have to pay for Ancestral Recall?

A: Just . When you're dealing with effects that change what's paid for a spell, you start with the mana cost printed on the card (or the alternative cost you're paying, if applicable), then apply anything that increases the cost followed by anything that decreases the cost. Finally you apply anything that cares about the total amount of mana being paid. So you start with the mana cost of , add from the Golem's cost increase, then apply Trinisphere, bumping up to .

Q: If I cast Chord of Calling and get Eternal Witness, can the Witness return Chord of Calling to my hand?

A: Yup! First you completely resolve Chord of Calling, which involves putting the Witness onto the battlefield, shuffling your library and putting Chord of Calling into your graveyard. Then you put Eternal Witness' trigger on the stack and choose its target; since the Chord is in your graveyard, it's legal to choose, and your opponent can witness you casting it all over again next turn.

Q: I thought Lion's Eye Diamond couldn't be used to cast a card from your hand, but I've seen people doing that with Infernal Tutor. Is there some trick I'm missing?

A: The "trick" is that they're not using the mana to cast Infernal Tutor. The typical play is to cast Infernal Tutor and hold priority after putting it on the stack, then immediately respond by activating Lion's Eye Diamond. This empties out the hand, which will cause Infernal Tutor (when it resolves) to have its hellbent effect.

Q: If I have Battlefield Thaumaturge and cast Essence Scatter to counter my opponent's creature, does Essence Scatter just cost ?

A: When a card refers to "creatures" it means only creatures which are on the battlefield; to refer to creatures in other zones, it'll say "creature card" or (as with Essence Scatter) "creature spell". So you're not targeting a creature in this situation, and Essence Scatter will still cost the normal

Q: If I have a Steel Golem, can I still cast Tarfire?

A: You can! Although tribals share a set of subtypes with creatures, they aren't creatures. So since Steel Golem doesn't forbid you casting tribal or instant spells, you can still Tarfire all day long.

Q: On my second turn, I cast a Dreampod Druid. After I untap on my third turn, can I cast Armor of Thorns on the Druid in response to its trigger to get a token?

A: Dreampod Druid's triggered ability has what's called an "intervening if". Among other things, that means the ability won't even trigger if its condition isn't met. The Druid did not have an enchantment on it as your upkeep began, so its ability didn't trigger and no amount of insta-enchanting after your upkeep has begun can fix that (and of course no player gets priority in the untap step, so there's also no way to sneak an enchantment onto it then).

Q: When I cycle Krosan Tusker, which happens first — searching for a land, or drawing a card?

A: You'll search and shuffle, then draw. Activating the cycling ability triggers the search ability, and the search ability goes on the stack last, meaning it resolves first.

Followed by the Summer of
Eternal Hot Dogs
Q: Can I attack with Norwood Priestess and Scourge of the Throne, then in the beginning of combat step of the second combat phase activate the Priestess to put a creature into play?

A: Any time a spell or ability says it can only be cast/activated before a certain point in the combat phase, they care about that point in the first combat phase of the turn. So even though you haven't yet declared attackers in the current combat phase, you did already have a declare attackers step in the first combat phase of the turn, and Norwood Priestess' ability can't be activated.

Q: I have a Thopter Squadron with no +1/+1 counters on it, enchanted by Empyrial Armor. If my opponent casts Wheel of Fortune, will Thoper Squadron die?

A: Not only will it live, it'll grow pretty big! State-based actions (which kill creatures that have lethal damage or 0 toughness, kill players who have 0 life, and so on) are checked after each spell finishes resolving, but not during. So even though the Thopter Squadron was briefly a 0/0 in the middle of resoling Wheel of Fortune, it's a 7/7 by the time state-based actions are checked.

Q: I control one creature, and my opponent controls two, one of which is a Goblin Goon. If I attack and he blocks with the Goon, can I flash in Simian Grunts to stop that?

A: You can flash the Grunts after your opponent declares declares blockers, but it won't affect the Goblin Goon; its restriction only gets checked once, at the declaration of blockers. Once the declaration is complete, the Goon will happily continue to block no matter how many monkeys show up across the table. To prevent the block from happening, you'll need to cast Simian Grunts prior to the declare blockers step.

Q: In an article a couple weeks ago you said Grenzo, Dungeon Warden can grab a creature even if a replacement effect sends it to exile instead of the graveyard. Would the same thing work with Wheel of Sun and Moon?

A: That creature is going to escape the dungeon... and go right back in and stay there. Effects that track a card across a zone change can find it, even if it doesn't go to the expected zone, so long as it goes straight into a public zone. So Grenzo can find a card that went straight to exile instead of the graveyard, since exile is a public zone. But the library isn't a public zone, so Grenzo won't be able to retrieve a creature with Wheel of Sun and Moon enchanting you.

Q: I control a Mistmoon Griffin and multiple other creatures. If my opponent activates Nevinyrral's Disk, how do I figure out which creature died last for the Griffin's trigger?

A: You don't, because the creatures all died simultaneously. But that doesn't actually cause a problem; any time multiple cards are being put into your graveyard at the same time, you choose the order they end up in. So you can decide which of your just-deceased creatures will be on top for the Griffin to return.

That's all I've got for this week, but eternity is a long time, so be sure to check back next week when Eli will return with another helping of rules questions in the next 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.


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