Published on 05/04/2020

The Real Monster

Cranial Translation
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Don't you find it "odd"
that you can't "even" deal with this guy?

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Hopefully, you've been enjoying your Ikoria experience so far. I know I've been enjoying drafting it a lot, especially taking our armies of Cat Apes and Elemental Jellyfish against the true monsters of Ikorira - the humans. What did our friendly beasts ever do to the humans to deserve being hunted down? Practically nothing. They're just trying to live their life to the best of their abilities. I mean, if you ask me, man is the real monster.

But enough about monster vs. beast, you came here for rules questions and answers, so that's what we're going to give you. And remember: if you have a rules question of your own, you can send it in to us and we'll send you an answer back. We might even use your question in a future article. You can us send short questions to us via Twitter at @CranialTweet, and you can send long questions to us at .

Q: I have a Stormwild Capridor in play. I cast Go for Blood, targeting my Capridor and my opponent's Excavation Mole. What happens?

A: When the fight happens, the Capridor will deal one damage to the Mole, and the Mole will deal three damage to the Capridor. But since damage dealt during a fight is noncombat damage, the three damage the Mole would deal to the Capridor is prevented, and the Capridor gets three +1/+1 counters instead. Those counters won't help the Capridor during that fight - all of the damage is dealt at the same time, so the Capridor's only deals one damage during the fight. The end result is the Capridor is a 4/6 and the Mole is a 3/3 with one damage marked on it.

Q: I mutate Vadrok, Apex of Thunder onto my cat token. If I want to cast Cathartic Reunion with the trigger, do I still need to discard two cards?

A: Yes, you still need to discard. Vadrok lets you cast the targeted card without paying its mana cost, but that only gets around the mana cost, not any additional costs. If you want to cast the Reunion with Vadrok's trigger, you'll still need to discard two cards.

Q: I control a Hunted Nightmare, while my opponent has two random 2/2s they can block with. I cast Monstrous Step targeting my Nightmare and one of my opponent's 2/2s and I attack. What are my opponent's legal blocking assignments?

A: They have to block the Nightmare with both the targeted 2/2 and the other 2/2. When we're checking for legal blocks, we have to fulfill as many requirements as possible without violating any restrictions. We have one requirement (the targeted 2/2 must block your Nightmare) and one restriction (the Nightmare has to be blocked by two or more creatures).

Your opponent can't just block with the targeted 2/2, since that violates a restriction because a creature with menace has to be blocked by two or more creatures. They can't not block the Nightmare, because there's another legal blocking assignment that would fulfill more requirements. Blocking with both of the 2/2s will fulfill one requirement without violating any restrictions, so that's the block your opponent has to go with. In essence, your opponent is forced to drag their other 2/2 into combat to block the Nightmare.

Q: I have a Bristling Boar in play. I cast Blood Curdle on an opponent's creature, and put the menace counter on the Boar. If I attack with the Boar, can my Boar be blocked?

A: Your Boar is effectively unblockable. The Boar's ability says it can only be blocked by one creature, but thanks to the menace counter, it also can only be blocked by two or more creatures. It's not possible to fulfill both restrictions, so your opponent won't be able to block your Boar.

Q: My opponent just resolved Gyruda, Doom of Depths. Do I get a chance to exile cards from graveyards using Scavenging Ooze's activated ability after they mill the cards, but before they put a creature onto the battlefield?

A: No you don't. Gyruda has one big triggered ability, and players don't get priority in the middle of the ability resolving to cast spells or activate abilities. Since the cards are milled and the creature is put onto the battlefield while the trigger is resolving, you won't get a chance to exile potential choices from graveyards before they put a creature card onto the battlefield.

Q: I cast Pacifism targeting my opponent's Honey Mammoth. My opponent responds with Keep Safe targeting Pacifism. If I respond to Keep Safe by casting Heartless Act on Honey Mammoth, will my opponent draw from Keep Safe?

A: Nope, they won't. Keep Safe has a target - a target spell that's targeting a permanent you control. While Pacifism was cast targeting a permanent they control, you removed the target for the Pacifism before it resolves. That won't immediately do anything to Pacifism, since it won't check its target again until it would go to resolve). But when Keep Safe goes to resolve, it checks to see that its target (Pacifism) is currently targeting a creature they control. But since the Mammoth was destroyed by the Act, Pacifism isn't currently targeting a permanent they control. Keep Safe's target isn't legal when it goes to resolve, so it does nothing and your opponent won't draw a card.

Ok, maybe not every human is a monster - but it's close.

Q: I control Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy and Nyxbloom Ancient. If I tap a Paradise Druid for mana, how much mana do I get?

A: You'll end up with a total of four mana. The Druid produces one mana on its own. The Ancient's replacement effect will change that to three mana. And Kinnan's triggered mana ability will add on one more mana. The Ancient doesn't care about Kinnan's ability, because it's a triggered ability, not an activated ability that uses the tap symbol and produces mana when it resolves. You'll end up with four mana of the color of your choice when it's all said and done.

Q: My opponent has a mutate stack with three different creatures mutated together. I attack my opponent with Etrata, the Silencer, and with its triggered ability, I exile their mutate creature. Assuming they have no other cards with hit counters exiled, what happens?

A: Your opponent just lost the game. Etrata exiles the creature with a hit counter. But with mutate, we add the hit counter to every creature that was exiled and in that mutate stack. That mutate consisted of three creatures, so Etrata exiles all three of them with a hit counter. Now Etrata checks to see how many cards your opponent owns in exile with hit counters on them, and since they have three cards with hit counters on them, they'll lose the game.

Q: I control Yorion, Sky Nomad and a Spark Double that's copying Yorion. I cast Ghostly Flicker targeting both Yorions. Can I copy the returning Yorion with my Spark Double?

A: No you cannot. The Flicker will return Yorion and the Double at the same time. The Double has a replacement effect, and you have to choose a creature or planeswalker you control that's on the battlefield to copy. You can't choose to copy Yorion, since it's not on the battlefield yet when we're making that choice. The Double won't be able to copy the returning Yorion, but it can enter as a copy of a creature or planeswalker you already have on the battlefield.

Q: I control Chevill, Bane of Monsters and my opponent controls multiple creatures, none of which have a bounty counter on them. Can I copy Chevill's upkeep trigger with Strionic Resonator and put bounty counters on multiple creature?

A: You can copy the ability, but it usually won't work out for you. Chevill's trigger has an intervening if, so it checks again when the trigger goes to resolve to make sure it's condition (your opponents don't control a permanent with a bounty counter) is still true. If it's not, then the trigger does nothing when it resolves and the second target won't get a bounty.

Now, there are ways to make this work - you just need a way to kill a creature after the first trigger resolves, but before the second trigger resolves. If you do that, your opponent is back down to zero permanents with a bounty counter, and the second trigger will put a bounty counter on the targeted creature or planeswalker.

Q: What happens if I mutate onto a face-down creature?

A: Well, that depends on what ends up on top. If the face down creature doesn't end up on top of the stack, then it effectively contributes nothing to the mutate stack - it doesn't have any abilities since it's face down, and since the top card isn't face down, it's not considered to be a face down permanent and you can't turn the face down part face up via morph since you can't reveal the morph cost.

But what if the face down creature ends up on top? Well, if you read our updated layers article, you might have an idea. You'll end up with a face down creature with none of the abilities gained through mutate. Why is that? Because in layer 1, we apply copy effects and mutate effects first, then we apply being face down, which means that any abilities it gained through mutate are overwritten by being a face down creature. However, since it's face down, it can be turned face up, and once you do, it will have all of the abilities gained through mutate.

Q: My opponent controls a Void Winnower. Can I still cast Archipelagore via its mutate cost?

A: You can cast it normally or you can cast it via mutate. Converted mana cost looks at the mana cost of the card, not what you're paying to cast the card. While you're spending an even amount of mana to cast Archipelagore via mutate, that doesn't change the fact that Archipelagore's converted mana cost is seven (an odd number). Void Winnower won't stop you from casting Archipelagore, whether it's normally or by mutating it.

Q: I cast Kathril, Aspect Warper. In my graveyard is a Westvale Abbey. Will my Kathril get to distribute a flying, indestructible, and lifelink counter among my creatures?

A: No it will not - it won't get anything from the Abbey. Unless a double-faced card is on the battlefield and transformed, we only look at the front side of the card, not the back side. The front side is just a land with none of the abilities that Kathril cares about (and it's also not a creature), so Kathril won't count it for its triggered ability.

The most dangerous creature in Magic.

Q: I cast Genesis Ultimatum, and one of the top five cards is a Riftsweeper. If I put the Riftsweeper onto the battlefield, can I shuffle the Ultimatum into my library?

A: You can! The trigger from Riftsweeper waits until we're done resolving the Ultimatum before it goes on the stack. At the point when we're choosing a target for the trigger, the Ultimatum is in exile, so it's a legal target for Riftsweeper's trigger and you can shuffle the Ultimatum that you just resolved back into your library.

Q: I control Nature's Revolt, turning all of my Forests into creatures. Then I cast Gemrazer via mutate targeting one of my Forests. Does my mutate creature still have the ability to tap for green mana?

A: That depends on what ends up on top. If you keep the Forest on top of the mutate stack, it will be a 2/2 Forest (and the ability to tap for green mana) with reach, trample, and the Gemrazer's ability.

But if you keep Gemrazer on top, then it will be a 4/4 Gemrazer with reach, trample, and mutate triggered - but not the ability to tap for green mana. When you mutate, you get the characteristics of whatever ends up on top, plus the text boxes of whatever ends up down below. You don't get anything else from whatever is down below, including anything on the type line. Since the Forest isn't on top, it doesn't have the Forest subtype, which also means that it doesn't gain the ability to tap for green mana. Keep in mind that this is only true of a land that's relying on its basic land type to give it the mana ability - if you mutated onto something like Fertile Thicket, it can tap for green mana, since it has an ability that lets it tap for mana.

Q: I control Zirda, the Dawnwaker and a Fluctuator. I want to cycle Ketria Triome. How much will it cost me to cycle?

A: It's your choice, either one or zero mana. When you're applying cost reducing effects, you can apply the effects in any order you want. Zirda can't reduce the cost to activate the ability to less than one mana, but Fluctuator doesn't have the same restriction. If you apply Fluctuator's effect first, then Zirda, then it will cost to cycle (three minus two is one, and then Zirda's effect doesn't really do anything since Zirda's effect can't reduce the cost to less than one). But if you apply Zirda's effect first, then Fluctuator, it will cost to cycle (Zirda reduces the cost from three to one, and the Fluctuator brings it down to zero mana).

Q: I control Gavi, Nest Warden and an Escape Protocol. I cycle a card for free using Gavi's ability, and then I blink Gavi with the Protocol trigger. Will that let me cycle a second card this turn for free?

A: Nope, you already got your free cycle for the turn. Gavi only cares about the first card you cycle each turn, not the first card you cycle after it enters the battlefield. Although the returned Gavi wasn't on the battlefield when the first card was cycle, it knows that any future cycling done this turn isn't the first time you've cycled this turn, so you'll have to pay the normal cycling cost to cycle the second card.

Q: I control Zaxara, the Exemplary and an Elemental Bond. I cast Animist's Awakening with X=5. Will the token I get from Zaxara's trigger also let me draw from the Bond's trigger?

A: Nope, the Bond won't trigger here. Zaxara doesn't create a token with the counters on it. It creates a 0/0 token, then adds that many +1/+1 counters to the token. After the token enters, we check to see if anything should trigger (even if we're in the middle of resolving a spell). The token is still a 0/0 at that point when we're checking for enter the battlefield triggers, so its power isn't three or greater and the Bond won't trigger. By the time the ability is done resolving, the token is a 5/5, but it's too late for the Bond to care and you won't draw a card.

Q: I want to use Obosh, the Preypiercer as my commander. Do I have to obey the companion restriction and only play cards with an odd converted mana cost?

A: You can play whatever black and/or red cards you want. The companion restriction only applies if you want to use that card as your companion. If you want to play that card as your commander, or just include it in your deck, then you just ignore the companion text altogether, and you can play cards with an even converted mana cost in your Obosh commander deck.

Q: My opponent has their commander, Otrimi, the Ever-Playful, mutated with a Trumpeting Gnarr. I cast Leadership Vacuum targeting my opponent. Both Otrimi and the Gnarr go to the command zone, but can my opponent cast the Gnarr from the command zone?

A: Nope, they can't. The Vacuum puts both cards in the command zone, but the rules only allow you to cast your commander from the command zone, not any card that ends up in the command zone. Your opponent will be able to recast Otrimi from the command zone, but the Gnarr will be stuck in the command zone for the rest of the game. It's kind of like their Gnarr got AWOLed!

That's all we have for this week. See you again next week!


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