Published on 11/02/2009

Leftover Candy (and Questions)

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Happy Halloween! Oh... got to remember
I'm writing this
before Halloween,
but it'll come out

Welcome back to Cranial Insertion! It always feels like so long in between writing these columns, and even longer when big things happen between them. Two weeks ago PTQ season kicked off bigtime for me (the first one of the season is always the sweetest), and this past weekend was the Cranial Insertion Halloween party. I wish I could tell you what happened, but anyone who can tell you stories about it wasn't really there, if you get my drift. I wanted to have a Halloween themed article, but it wouldn't make much sense after Halloween. After all, the scariest thing we get around here is the sense of suspense we feel when opening our mailbox, wondering when another Ob Nixilis/Warp World question will pop out.

Speaking of the mailbox, send your questions (and leftover Halloween candy) in to us! Your questions can be sent to , but you'll have to find a more creative way to get candy to us (it doesn't email well). So without further ado, grab a handful of candy corn before it goes stale and let's get to your questions!

Q: If my opponent has a Tormod's Crypt in play, and I cast Entomb successfully during my main phase (placing a Bloodghast in my graveyard), can I retain priority and play a land (thus triggering Bloodghast's Landfall trigger) without my opponent being able to remove it from my graveyard with his Crypt?

A: You get priority after Entomb resolves, so you can play a land before your opponent can activate his Tormod's Crypt. However, even though playing a land doesn't use the stack, the resulting trigger from Bloodghast does use the stack. Your opponent can pop his Crypt and take out your graveyard before the trigger resolves and brings it back.

Q: My opponent is attacking me with a Scute Mob that has eight +1/+1 counters on it. I'm blocking with my Vampire Hexmage, after the first strike damage is dealt, can I sac my Hexmage to remove all the counters off the Scute Mob and kill it?

A: Yep! You get priority after first strike damage is dealt, before the regular combat damage step, so you can sac your Hexmage and make Scute Mob a 1/1 with two damage on it, whereupon it'll promptly drop dead.

Q: I control an Elsewhere Flask, and my opponent activates Wasteland targeting my Tolarian Academy. I respond by turning all my lands into Islands. Does this protect the Academy by making it an invalid target for Wasteland?

A: Nope. The Academy gains a basic land type, but it doesn't gain the all-important supertype "basic" - so it's still nonbasic and will go kaboom.

Q: My general is Scion of the Ur-Dragon. Trouble is, I'm not too keen on paying WUBRG just to bean my opponent for a mere 4 at a time, so I want to be turning him into nasty things like Draco and Chameleon Colossus. My concern is: will the damage still count as General Damage while the Scion is busy "being something else"?

A: Yep. Generalness is something that can't be overridden by mere copy effects, it's just part of the card itself.

Q: What happens if I use Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet to kill a Runeclaw Bear with a Spidersilk Net on it?

A: You get a 2/4 Vampire! Kalitas's ability checks the creature's power and toughness as it last existed in play, so you get a vampire with a big butt.

It's Halloween on Grixis pretty
much every day.
Q: If I have Sedris, the Traitor King on the field and a Heartstabber Mosquito in my graveyard, can I unearth the Mosquito and pay its kicker cost?

A: Nope. You're paying a cost to put the Mosquito onto the field, but that's due to unearth, an activated ability. If Sedris let you play creature cards in your graveyard, that'd be do-able, but your Mosquito is slightly less threatening without something like Yawgmoth's Will.

Q: I know if I say "enter combat?" it's assumed I'm passing priority to the declare attackers step, where it'd be too late to activate my Zektar Shrine Expedition and swing with some 7/1s, but what if I want to empty my opponent's mana pool by going to the beginning of combat step?

A: Then say exactly that! If you're explicit on how you don't want to take the shortcut all the way to the declare attackers step, you'll be allowed to attack with your tokens.

Q: If I use Harrow to get two lands into play with a Turntimber Basilisk on the field, can I force two creatures to block my Basilisk?

A: With deathtouchers being able to divide their damage as much as they'd like, it's rare to see someone double-blocking a creature with deathtouch these days. But if Creature A and Creature B both have to block Turntimber Basilisk because each instance of its triggered ability targeted one of them, you'll have two very dead blockers.

Q: My opponent has only Uril, the Miststalker on her side of the field, and I cast Evangelize. Do I get Uril?

A: You can't actually cast Evangelize at all, because there simply aren't any legal targets! Although your opponent is choosing the targets for Evangelize, they're still doing at the time you'd normally choose targets, which is upon casting. You control the spell, and Uril can't be targeted by a spell you control, so there'll be none of that.

Q: Can I use Bloodbraid Elf to cascade into Boom/Bust, then choose to cast Boom?

A: Yep! At any place other than the stack, Boom/Bust's converted mana cost is two and six. Boom's converted mana cost is two, so when Bloodbraid Elf's cascade trigger asks "Is your converted mana cost less than four?" Boom/Bust says "Well, yes!" and lets you cast it - but which half is up to you.

Q: I've got an Aether Vial with two stale candy corn counters, and my opponent has a Pernicious Deed. If I were to activate my Aether Vial and he were to pop his Deed in response, what happens when my Vial's ability resolves?

A: The game uses last known information to check how many drops of supersummoning plasma were in the Vial, in this case, two.

Q: I have an active Pyromancer Ascension out. I cast Naya Charm. Can I have the Charm return to my hand along with some other card?

A: Nope. You have to choose a target for Naya Charm when it goes on the stack,a nd the same goes for the copy. The original Naya Charm isn't in the yard at that time, so you can't choose to bring it back.

Q: If I control a Deft Duelist and a Sovereigns of Lost Alara and attack with just the Duelist, can I get an Aura from my library and put it onto it?

A: You can! Auras only target when cast as spells. If you're just putting one onto the battlefield, you get to attach it to any creature you want.

Q: Let's say I fetch up a Gigantiform so I have a monster Duelist. Can I kick it?

A: Nope. This is the downside of not casting the Aura - though you can attach it to something with shroud, you're not casting it, so you can't pay the kicker cost.

Q: The MTG Comp Rules state that each team starts with 30 life in a 2HG game, and each player starts with 40 life in an EDH game. What happens when me and three of my friends want to play a 2HG EDH game? With a shared planar deck?

A: Anything you want! There's no official ruling on what to do here, so you can set your teams' life totals to whatever you see fit. I'd suggest somewhere between 40 to 60 life, though, because no matter what you do it's going to be a very long game.

It don't know about you, but 2HG
questions are pretty scary!
Q: Suppose I'm in a 2HG game and both teams are at 30 life. I control Rafiq of the Many, enchant my Battlegrace Angel with Celestial Mantle, and swing in with my 9/9 doublestriking lifelinking flyer, who isn't blocked. How much life do we gain?

A: A lot. Oh, that might not be good enough for a rules column, huh? So you attack with your 9/9 and it isn't blocked. You gain 9 life immediately from lifelink, and Celestial Mantle triggers. Your team's at 39 life, so your individual life total is half that, rounded up: 20. You double your life total, so you go up to 40, and your team's life total is adjusted by that amount, so now your team's life total is 59. Then it happens again thanks to double strike: you gain 9, putting your team's total to 68, and your life total is now 34; doubling that brings you to 68, and your team's life total to 102. So to answer your question, your team gains a whole 72 life. That's a lot.

Q: Can I use a gold-bordered card from an old Worlds precon in my deck if it's in a sleeve with an opaque back? What if it's a basic land?

A: Gold bordered cards aren't legal in sanctioned play at all, even if you can't tell they're not a regular Magic card without looking at the front. They do make excellent proxies in (unsanctioned) Vintage tournaments, however!

Q: I play Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. Is there any time my opponent can Lightning Bolt him before I play a land?

A: Nope - you get priority first after Ob Nixilis resolves, so you can immediately play a land and trigger his ability. He can Bolt him in response to the trigger to save himself from a 6/6 angry ex-planeswalker, but it won't save him from losing 3 life.

Q: Can I use Sphinx of Jwar Isle's ability to look at the top card in the middle of drawing cards with Ad Nauseum?

A: Sure! The Sphinx just adds the top card of your library to the list of things-you-can-know, just like the cards in your hand. You can peek at the top card of your library and see for yourself whether or not you can stand to take the hit.

Q: Would not writing basic lands on my limited decklist really get me a game loss at a PTQ? It's just basic lands, right?

A: Yes, and this is one of the more common reasons players get game losses at limited events with deck registration. A player's decklist is considered to be the be-all end-all of what they're playing. If it doesn't match, then that's a Deck/Decklist Mismatch infraction, and you'll get a game loss for it. In my experiences, head judges are pretty good at making announcements to remind players to doublecheck their land registration (as it's usually the last thing players put on their list), but once it's handed in, it's too late.

Q: I think I forgot which card I sideboarded out, and I don't want to get a game loss if I get deck checked the next round. Can I see my decklist?

A: Usually, yes. You have a right to see your decklist, and judges will make their best effort to get you your list, time permitting.

Well, that's all for me this week. In seven days, Eli will speak. Be sure to check us out at that time: hopefully that one will not rhyme.

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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