Published on 08/29/2005

Recurring Nightmares

or, FAQ It!

Cranial Translation
[No translations yet]

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

We've had a whole bunch of Cranial Insertion articles by now. This is number 23, in fact! Congrats Thijs and Jeff and Moko, we rock.

However, I've noticed something. A vast majority of questions that we've received and that we've seen outside of the world of forcibly inserted fluffy bunnies can be answered by following a few simple guidelines. These are the truly frequently-asked-questions – while the details are different, the base question remains the same. We'll look at those before we get to real questions this week.

Also, we've set up for you to write your rules questions. All of these emails will be forwarded to both Thijs and myself, so you'll get two answers for the price of one - and then one of us can use it in an article. Exciting!

A #1: Read the Friendly Card.

Q: "End of your turn, I return Cage of Hands to my hand."
"Wait, how do you do that?!"

"How is that Nezumi Cutthroat blocking my White Knight?"

"Did you pay for that Force of Nature before you drew?"

See? Read the card. This won't always apply to rules questions, but it'll also help keep the game state clear and understandable. When both players understand the game state, there are fewer judge calls for non-rules issues such as "What do we do now that the Fear has illegally been on White Knight for 6 turns?"

A good number of rules questions are also easily answered by reading the card, for example:

Pithing Needle does nothing at all
to this card.
A #2: It is not an activated ability unless it has a colon (you know, that : thing) between a cost and an effect. It is not a triggered ability unless it starts with "At," "When," or "Whenever."

Q: "Will Pithing Needle stop Kokusho, the Evening Star?"

"Can I Stifle (insert just about anything here)?"

We keep saying it, you guys keep saying it in the forums, Rune and Carter both kept and keep saying it on Saturday School... but the questions about "Is this a triggered/activated ability?" never stop. Well, now you have the power! Just copy and paste the answer!

For bonus points, print out a screenshot of the paragraph with the CI logo above it. I promise exciting prizes to anyone who sends a picture of them using that to answer a judge call at a sanctioned event. The higher the K-value the better.

A #3: A spell does not target unless the word "target" explicitly appears on the card. An ability does not target unless the word "target" explicitly appears in the ability or unless it is a keyword ability with "target" in the rules text.

Q: "Do Auras target?"

"I target you with One with Nothing!"

"Does ‘This creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn' target?"

"I Misdirect your Duress back to you!"

How about no? For the last one, it's also checking to see what is a legal target (in this case, an opponent of the player who controls the spell). The ability thing can be tricky sometimes. Auras target because of a game rule tied to their card type and the Enchant ability. Modular targets due to game rules, as does Provoke. However, Phasing, Vigilance, and Bushido do not target.

Prizes offered here same as above. Give in to the dark side! :-D

A #4: When a spell or ability tells you to do something impossible, do as much as you can.

Q: Yes, you can "discard three cards" if you only have one – you do what you can, and discard one.

"Destroy target creature. Draw a card." will net you a card if you whap an indestructible creature – it just won't also kill it.

If you're told to "Sacrifice this thing. You lose five life.", you will still lose the life even if you get rid of the thing before the ability resolves.

Ah, but there's the sneaky thing to watch out for: What if it says "Sacrifice this thing. If you do, you lose five life."? In that case, you don't lose life because you didn't actually sacrifice it. Standstill is a good example that's relevant to the current Extended environment. The ability may trigger a hundred times, but the Standstill will only be sacrificed once, so the card draw will only happen once.

This is what makes Measure of Wickedness so delightfully evil. It doesn't include the "If you do" clause. If your opponent controls it at the end of his turn, you can respond to the trigger by killing something of his or making him discard, and not only do you get to keep the Measure around for a bit, he'll do as much as he can – and still lose 8 life!

A #5: Magic is a game of strategy, not Egyptian Rat Screw.

Q: You can't slap down a Terror on a creature and say "IT'S THE DED YAY!" without giving your opponent a chance to respond.

You can't say "This guy attacks, too late to tap him!"

Remember the dreaded P-word? The one I used so many times in this article that I shall always henceforth try to avoid typing? Yeah. You gotta have it to do things, and you gotta pass it to move on.

I'm sure that all of you good Rabbitheads know that by now, but it bears repeating.

I'm sure there's a bunch more, but those are the biggest offenders ["There are," speaking of big offenders. :no: -Ed]. Okay then, let's move on to questions. To make up for the lack of funny in the previous section, let's get some really oddball questions.

Q: Can my opponent target my White Knight with Cranial Extraction?

A: ... Moko is being mean to me.

Okay, let's start by looking at Extraction. It says to target a player, not a card, so we know that that part's right out. So what it looks like you're really asking is if a player can choose White Knight for Cranial Extraction.

Sure, why not?

Protection's protection only covers DEBT (or DABT for more recent players) – damaging, enchanting/equipping/attaching, blocking, and targeting. It won't do a thing about choices.

Not to mention that protection from black is not active while the card is in the library, hand, graveyard, or my stomach.

Q: How can a Fog of Gnats carry and manipulate a Loxodon Warhammer? Furthermore, how does that enable them to also carry around an O-Naginata?

A: That's not a rules question, but it's funny. Magic is a flavorful game. And when things happen that run completely contradictory to flavor (such as playing Remove Soul on a Soulless One and Inspiriting a Wall of Stone) we snicker and move on.

No, we do not judge your plays on how much logical sense they make. Headless Horseman can carry the Helm of Kaldra in his lap.

Q: Can I have ten of the Ravnica Noodle lands in my deck?

A: Only if you're using three different lands there. The Ravnica duals have basic land types, but they do not have the Basic supertype, so they're still restricted by the four-of-a-kind rule.

Q: Can I fetch a Noodle with Sakura-Tribe Elder?

A: Refer to above – the Elder can only fetch Basic lands, which would be lands with the Basic supertype. Just having a basic land type like Plains, Island, Forest, Mountain, or Swamp does not make the land Basic.

Q: How about Wooded Foothills? Will that fetch a Noodle?

A: There we go, that works. Wooded Foothills only cares about the card's subtype, so if your land has the type Mountain or Forest, you can fetch it.

Q: With Horobi, Death's Wail out, can I use Terror on a black creature just so it'll be targeted and kill it?

A: Nope, ain't happening. Since Terror can not target a black creature, the creature will never actually become the target. The Terror will simply be an illegal announcement and reversed. No wailing for Horobi.

When the 3HG rules come out, will they print
Three-Headed Giant of Somewhere?
Q: Is it true that playing Beacon of Immortality in a 2-Headed Giant tournament when we're at 40 will only reset our life to 40?

A: Not anymore! That was the original wording in the CompRules (rule 606.9c for those who care), but the official answer has been reversed with the 2HG FAQ; the change will be updated in the CompRules with the Ravnica release.

Now, if you Beacon while at 40, the game looks at your player life totals – 20 and 20 – and doubles yours. Then it puts them back together to 60.

Q: Can the 2HG team share one sideboard of 30 cards?

A: No – in fact, you don't get any sideboard at all. 2HG matches consist of only one game, since the table-talk makes that one game longer than a normal game of Magic. Since there's only one game, there's no sideboarding allowed.

Q: So what if we end the first game in a draw?

A: Remember how you can have 4 or 5 games in a normal tournament? Drawn games do not count towards the one game here any more than they could towards the three games in a normal match. Keep playing!

Random factoid before we leave 2HG for the week: Each player gets one free mulligan – shuffle the 7 cards back in and draw 7 again – before they start on normal mulligans. Yay free mulligans!

Q: Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! What happens if all five of us put Clone into play copying each other's Clone?

A: Sorry, you can not do that. Clone can only copy a creature that's already in play at an earlier time than when it comes into play, and Eureka puts them all into play at the same time as far as the game is concerned.

Q: Does Brain Freeze count spells that were countered?

A: Yup indeed. For the spell to be countered, it must have been played. It doesn't matter that it never resolved, it was played.

Q: Say I swing with my Natural Emergence-animated lands, assign damage, then Disenchant the Emergence. Ethereal Haze won't prevent the damage, right?

A: I'm sure that everyone from #mtgjudge knows who asked that, even if they weren't there at the time...

Yes, Haze will not prevent combat damage that would be dealt by lands.

This is a freaky deal. Even though the damage was, of course, assigned by creatures, they are no longer creatures, but damage is still assigned and will be dealt as assigned by the permanents from which it was assigned. Since the permanents are still in play, the game uses current information to determine what they are, resulting in a game that says "Umm what the...?" and then shrugs and has lands beating you upside the head.

Ethereal Haze says to prevent damage that would be dealt by creatures, so it won't stop those mean old lands from assaulting and battering you.

Holy Day will, though. Even lands need some time off.

Time to sign off for the week. Between the time of writing and publication, Grand Prix Salt Lake City, Canadian Nationals, and Tucson's first PTQ in several years will happen. Good luck (a little retrospectively) to all the players, judges, and monkeys involved.

Until next time, enjoy the lack of mana chickens in Standard!

-Eli Shiffrin, L1 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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