Published on 03/02/2009


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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Pasgoyf's power and toughness are
each equal to the number of rules
questions in the mailbox.

Welcome to another edition of Cranial Insertion! As you may be aware, it's Extended season, or as I like to call it, Goyf season. Judging PTQs is as exciting for me as playing in them is for you because I get all sorts of questions directly from some of our readers in person.

But if you can't make it out to New York, Arizona, or Virginia to ask one of us questions in person, you can always send them in to the CI mailbag, .

And now, on to the questions!

Q: If I steal my opponent's Saproling with my Dominus of Fealty, and later that turn I activate Avarice Totem targeting that Saproling, do I get to keep the Saproling after the turn is over?

A: If both permanents are controlled by the same player, nothing will happen, since you can't "exchange" control of something with yourself. You'll lose the Saproling at the end of the turn; but don't worry, there's always next upkeep!

Q: How does Pariah's Shield and similar cards work in Two-Headed Giant? Does it take the damage from both of us, or can the other team just assign all combat damage to my other head and target all burn spells at him?

A: In 2HG, even though you're attacked as a team, the attacking team still must assign damage to one of your team's heads. If you control Pariah's Shield, then assigning the damage to you would probably be a bad idea, as your team would take no damage. For direct damage spells (for example, Lightning Bolt) they'll target one head and deal damage just to that player. Again, aiming a Lightning Bolt at the player who controls the Pariah's Shield is probably not a good idea.

Q: I kill a Sower of Temptation that's stealing my Swans of Bryn Argoll with a Chain of Plasma, then my opponent discards a card to target the Swans. Who draws the cards?

A: When the first Chain of Plasma starts to resolve, it'll deal 3 damage to the Sower, and then your opponent will get to choose whether or not to discard a card. Since he does, the copy of Chain of Plasma gets put onto the stack and he'll pick a target for Chain of Plasma. The Sower will die to state-based effects, and the control-changing effect will end. If he picks the Swans as a target, that's bad times for him - he'll draw three cards, but then you'll get to draw cards and discard them to aim a new copy of Chain of Plasma at your Swans over and over and over.

Q: When I cycle an Edge of Autumn by sacrificing a Flagstones of Trokair, do I search first or draw the card first?

A: The first step of playing an activated ability is to put that ability onto the stack, and then you'll pay the costs later on while playing it, which includes sacrificing the Flagstones and triggering its ability. Once you finish playing the cycling ability, the Flagstones trigger will go on the stack above it. You'll search for a Plains, and then you'll draw a card. Thin that deck! (But if you have my luck you'll probably draw a Plains anyway.)

Warning: May Cause Shuffle-itis
Q: I cast a Mind's Desire off a Mind's Desire, and now I've got twenty-six copies of it. Do I really need to shuffle each time, or can I just shuffle once and flip cards off the top?

A: Not only is it well within reason to shuffle thoroughly and flip the top cards over, it's a well-established and very time-saving shortcut. The whole point of shuffling for Mind's Desire is to fully randomize your library, so unless something orders your library in any way between any copies resolving, the first bout of shuffling will ensure that. In fact, shuffling between each copy might have judges seriously looking into why you're wasting so much time.

Q: Is there an opportunity for me to Remand my original Mind's Desire so I can cast it again?

A: You actually have plenty of opportunity to do this: after you play Mind's Desire while the storm trigger is on the stack, after the storm trigger resolves and makes the copies, before each copy of Mind's Desire resolves, etc. Remand will plop the original Mind's Desire right back in your hand, draw you a card, and add one to the storm count if you should so desire to play that Desire again this turn.

Q: I have a Battle of Wits in play, I'm at two life, and my opponent controls a Sulfuric Vortex. It's the beginning of my upkeep - do I win or lose?

A: There's a metaphor here for a classic struggle of the battle of wits vs. brute force, but I can't think of it - and I'm not much of a control player anyway. You'll lose the game here and perform the quite arduous task of shuffling that big library up for game two. At the beginning of your upkeep, the active player's (that's your) triggers will go on the stack first, and then the non-active player's (your opponent's). His will resolve first, and you'll take lethal damage.

By the way, this is one of those times where I can say I've seen some of the more bizarre card interactions we write about here in person: I answered this one at the Edison, NJ PTQ on Feb 21st!

Q: My opponent has out a Kederekt Parasite and one red permanent, which is a Figure of Destiny. I play Execute targeting the Figure. Will I take one damage?

A: Because of the order of what's written on Execute, you'll be safe from getting pinged. First you'll destroy the Figure, and then you'll draw a card. However, no red permanents will be on your opponent's side when you draw, so you won't take any damage.

Q: How does Void Maw interact with unearthed creatures?

A: However the controller of the unearthed creature wants. Both Void Maw and unearth create replacement effects if the creature would be put into the yard, so the affected object's controller will get to choose which applies first and therefore what happens to it.

Q: I block a Sickle Ripper with a Sporesower Thallid. Later that turn, the Thallid gets hit with a Chill to the Bone, and I regenerate it. If regenerating removes all damage from the creature, and wither means that damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters, why don't the counters go away? What am I missing?

A: You're missing a lot if you're just reading the reminder text on Sickle Ripper. It says that damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters, but that's just a short little reminder of what wither does. While normal damage puts damage on a creature, wither damage puts that many -1/-1 counters on it.

Q: In a Standard tournament, can I name Tarmogoyf with Runed Halo?

A: Sure, any real Magic card is legal to name with Runed Halo. Naming Tarmogoyf won't be terribly useful though, but it will get you major props from me.

Q: I control a Paleoloth, and my Ornithopter wielding a Deathrender gets put into the graveyard. If I put Kitchen Finks into play with Deathrender's ability, can I bring back the Ornithopter?

A: No dice; the Finks comes into play first, and then Deathrender becomes attached to it. It'll have five power when Deathrender's triggered ability finishes resolving, but it was just a 3/2 when it came into play.

Q: The plural of Equipment is Equipment, so can Auriok Windwalker target any number of Equipment with its ability, or just one?

A: Just the one. If you could target any number of Equipment, it would say so on the card; but since it doesn't, you only get to target one Equipment. Singular.

We actually get questions about
this card!
Q: I play a Suntail Hawk off a Plains fortified by Darksteel Garrison. Can I give the Hawk +1/+1 from the Garrison's triggered ability?

A: At the time you pick a target for Darksteel Garrison's ability, Suntail Hawk is still on the stack. So you'll need to pick another creature that's already in play to get the bonus.

Q: I play Plagiarize targeting my opponent during his upkeep. In response, he plays Plagiarize targeting me! What happens?

A: Thanks for writing in. The two Plagiarize replacement effects will end up canceling each other out: your card draw is replaced by his card draw, which is in turn replaced by your card draw again. The order of the spells doesn't matter - if either of you would draw a card, you end up drawing it and not the other guy.

--Brian Paskoff, plagarizing Eli Shiffrin

Q: I have a Lich's Mirror in play, and get into a counter-war with my opponent where I resolve two Pact of Negations. At the beginning of my next upkeep, do I shuffle up, draw seven, then do it again?

A: Only if you sneak a Lich's Mirror into play after the first one does its thing. At the beginning of your upkeep, you'll put both Pact of Negation triggers on the stack. First one resolves, and Lich's Mirror replaces you losing the game with you basically restarting it. Then after all that's done, the second Pact of Negation trigger resolves, and you'll lose the game for real this time since both Lich's Mirrors got shuffled away.

Q: If a Maelstrom Archangel is given -5/-0 by, say, five Cumber Stones, will I still get to play a card for free if I attack with it and deal zero damage to my opponent?

A: A creature with zero power assigns no combat damage, so any triggered abilities that trigger on combat damage being dealt won't trigger.

Q: I'm confused why the mono-red decks in Extended play Darksteel Citadel. It doesn't provide red mana, and since it's indestructible, it can't be used with Shrapnel Blast, can it?

A: Indestructibility prevents things from being destroyed, but the key here is that the Citadel isn't being destroyed, it's being sacrificed and launched at an opponent's face.

Q: It's my draw step and I want to dredge a Darkblast out of my graveyard. Can my opponent Extirpate it in response?

A: Normally, the card draw you're trying to replace with dredging will be caused by something that gives your opponent ample time to swipe any dredge-able spells from your yard, like a spell or ability. But the draw you perform during your draw step doesn't use the stack; so if your opponent doesn't do anything during your upkeep to remove Darkblast, by the time you declare that you're swapping your draw for a dredge it's already too late.

Q: I have a Summoner's Pact trigger waiting for me at the beginning of my upkeep. Can I use a Dark Ritual to pay for it if all I have are three lands?

A: Though the Pact triggers at the beginning of your upkeep, you don't need to pay for it until the trigger resolves. Until then, you can generate mana to pay for it however you're able to.

Until next time, this is your friendly neighborhood Goyf signing out!

About the Author:
Brian Paskoff is a Level 2 judge based in Long Island, NY, and frequently judges in NY, NJ, and PA. You can often find him at Brothers Grim in Selden or Friendly Neighborhood Comics in West Islip. He runs a newsletter for Long Island Magic players called Islandhome, which can be signed up for by contacting him.


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