Published on 04/13/2009

The Easter Goyf

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Found one!
I hope everyone had a happy Passover and Easter! This was my first Easter with the Cranial Insertion team, and being the first one hired this year, according to tradition it was my turn to hide the Easter eggs. The trouble is, I hid them so well that even I don't remember where they were! They should be around here somewhere.

After you're done looking, send in your rules questions to the Cranial Insertion mailbag at !

Q: I play Gigadrowse, replicating it five times to target all of my opponent's lands. If he responds by tapping two lands to play a Spellstutter Sprite, can I change one of the targets to the Sprite? Gigadrowse says "You may choose new targets."

A: A copy of a spell will copy everything about it, including the targets - which is why replicate lets you change the targets of those copies (because it'd be quite silly to Gigadrowse the same thing six times). But you choose the targets for those copies as soon as they go on the stack, and since you've already picked the lands, you can't change them again.

Q: If I tap a Vedalken Shackles to target my opponent's attacking Tarmogoyf, and he bounces the Shackles with Venser, Shaper Savant in response to the ability, does the Tarmogoyf leave combat?

A: Nope - if an effect with a limited duration would end before it even begins, it doesn't happen at all! You won't gain control of the Goyf at all, so it'll never leave combat.

Q: Can I play Cruel Ultimatum even if I don't have a creature card in my graveyard to return to my hand?

A: Yep! Cruel Ultimatum only has one target, and that's an opponent. And because the creature card you return isn't targeted, you don't pick one until the spell is in the middle of resolving. If you don't have a dead creature in the yard at that point, you simply won't return anything.

Q: Is it possible to imprint Evermind onto an Isochron Scepter? Would it even do anything?

A: You sure can. Evermind's converted mana cost is zero, and that's way less than three. And since you're playing it without paying its mana cost, you're allowed to play it even though it doesn't have one.

Yum, pickled eggs!
Q: If I imprint a Brine Elemental underneath a Summoner's Egg, when the Egg is put into a graveyard, will my opponent skip their next untap step?

A: The Brine Elemental actually gets turned face up while it's still removed from the game, and its triggered ability doesn't work while it's not in play. So, it'll just be put into play face up. Don't count your Elementals before they're hatched, or something.

Q: During the third game of a match, I'm at 2 and my opponent is at 4, and I Char him. Is the whole match a draw now?

A: Only if you guys run out of time in the fourth game! The match isn't over until a player has won two games, so you'll go on to the fourth game. Whoever had the play/draw choice in the third game gets to make the choice again. Just don't forget to mark the drawn game on your match slip; it does matter for tiebreakers!

Q: If I have Wort, the Raidmother in play and conspire an entwined Tooth and Nail, is the copy also entwined?

A: It is! A copy of a spell will copy all choices made for the spell, including the choice you made to pay the entwine cost. You won't even need to pay the entwine cost for the copy! (Not that you could even if you wanted to, since you're not playing the copy.)

Q: Is lifelink cumulative? If I have two Battlegrace Angels out and attack with one, does the double lifelink do anything?

A: Usually, having two instances of an ability doesn't do anything. Double flying is just plain flying; the creature doesn't fly any higher. Double double strike isn't quadruple strike, either. But lifelink is a triggered ability that says "Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life." So when the creature deals damage, it'll trigger twice and you'll gain life for each time the trigger resolves.

Q: I have two Aven Squires in play, and attack with one, making it a 3/3 until end of turn. Then I play Infest. At the end of the turn, which effect wears off first, exalted or Infest?

A: They both wear off at the same time, so your Squire will end the turn as a 1/1.

Q: If I have a Skullmulcher in play when Pyrrhic Revival is played, and Skullmulcher devours the creatures already in play, are those devoured creatures in the yard in time to be revived?

A: First, Pyrrhic Revival determines what's going to come into play, then you apply all assorted replacement effects like devour. Then the predetermined set of objects actually moves - so stuff devoured in step 2 won't be returned because it wasn't marked in step 1.

Q: If I have an Everlasting Torment in play and someone plays Fracturing Gust, does the caster gain life from the Fracturing Gust?

A: You always follow the instructions written on a card in order. So, first Everlasting Torment will be destroyed, and then Fracturing Gust's controller will gain 2 life for each enchantment and/or artifact destroyed.

Q: In a recent CI, you said that you could name Shapeshifter with Runed Halo to get protection from tokens created by Crib Swap, since Shapeshifter is the name of a real card. But in a Standard tournament, is it legal to name Shapeshifter, which isn't legal in the format?

A: Sure, you can name any Magic card you want, even if it has no relevance at all in the current format.

Q: I attack with a Teneb, the Harvester and a Shriekmaw. If Shriekmaw gets blocked and dies in combat, can I reanimate it with Teneb's ability?

A: Sure - the triggered ability goes on the stack after combat damage is dealt and state-based effects are checked, at which point the Shriekmaw is in the yard. You can even reanimate Teneb himself if he somehow got trample and died in combat while still dealing combat damage to your opponent!

Anyone lose a land?
Q: I'm using Scion of the Ur-Dragon as my general in an EDH game. I know I can change Scion into a copy of Teneb, the Harvester. However, I'm extremely greedy, and I want to get Teneb in the graveyard and then return it to play with my Scion's (copied) ability. Is there any way I can get away with that without mass death to the legend rule?

A: Not really. The name is copied, and the Scion no longer has the copy ability, so Teneb is going to die unless you meddle around with the Scion's name or bounce it. (The Scion probably won't die, since most groups agree that generals are unaffected by the legend rule.)

Q: When I cycle a card with Lightning Rift in play, is there a way to see what I draw first before I decide if I want to use the triggered ability to deal damage?

A: Nope, you'll have to use the ability first or not at all. The first step of playing an ability is to put it onto the stack, so you'll put cycling onto the stack, pay the costs, and then Lightning Rift's trigger will go onto the stack above it. So it'll always resolve before the cycling ability lets you draw a card.

Q: Why can you Stifle a fetchland? Isn't it a mana ability?

A: Mana abilities are activated abilities that add mana to your mana pool and don't target, or triggered abilties that add mana to your mana pool and trigger off of mana abilities. Fetchlands will ultimately let you add mana to your mana pool in a roundabout way, but their activated abilities aren't actually mana abilities.

Q: I have a River Kelpie in play with no counters on it, and I flashback a Cabal Therapy from my graveyard, sacrificing the Kelpie to pay the cost. Do I draw card?

A: You'll draw card from the River Kelpie coming into play from the graveyard, but not for playing Cabal Therapy. A spell isn't "played" until you follow through all the steps of playing the spell, the last of which is paying the costs for it. By the time the spell is played, Kelpie's in the graveyard, and its persist trigger will go on the stack above it.

Q: Does Nyxathid's power and toughness rise and fall as the chosen player draws and discards cards, or is it set when you play it and never changes?

A: Nyxathid has a static ability that constantly checks the number of cards in the chosen player's hand. If it was set in stone as it entered play, it'd have a much more permanent reminder of its power and toughness, such as -1/-1 counters.

Q: My opponent plays Cabal Therapy on me, naming Death Cloud. If I activate my Scroll Rack in response, putting the Death Cloud on top of my library, does he get to name another card?

A: He doesn't actually need to name a card with Cabal Therapy until Cabal Therapy starts to resolve, and then it's too late for you to activate Scroll Rack. But if he does name a card before you let Cabal Therapy resolve, he's bound to that choice until you take some kind of action...such as activating Scroll Rack.

Q: If I discard a Wilt-Leaf Liege to give my opponent's Oona's Prowler -2/-0, do I get to put my Liege right into play?

A: Wilt-Leaf Liege only gets put into play if an ability an opponent controls makes you discard it. While your opponent controls Oona's Prowler, the controller of an activated ability is the player who played the ability. No free Lieges for you!

Q: When is Alara Reborn legal?

A: Depends what you mean! In Standard, Extended, Legacy, and Vintage, it's legal Thursday, April 30th. It's usually on a Friday, but you can thank the European readers for Worker/Labour Day (with a u) over there. In EDH, the set's legal as of the prerelease, which is on April 25th! And it's Cranial Insertion-legal as of April 25th as well, so please hold your questions until then. We don't like to answer any questions about new cards until they're officially released, because rules can change, and answering questions about new abilities based on only reminder text can get tricky.

We'll see you next week! Also, please find all the eggs before then, or else they might get a bit... ripe.

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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