Published on 05/11/2020

Neon Genesis Mutate a Lion

Cranial Translation
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Zankoku na tenshi no you ni
The world is a weird place right now. People are stuck inside and Ikoria has flooded the street with monsters. Life is basically a shonen anime, except I don't have a giant robot so what's the point?

But, lucky day! If you're the protagonist of this show, we here at Cranial Insertion are the older mentors here to fill your head with all sorts of Magic rules knowledge. Moko knows how to pilot mechs, but refuses to tell us.

As a friendly reminder, if you'd like the CI team to answer your question, please send it to us via email at or tweet it to us @CranialTweet. We answer every question we get, and your question could show up in a future article.

Q: What happens if I give my Phyrexian Colossus a menace counter?

A: Nothing special, really. A creature with menace can't be blocked except by two or more creatures. Colossus already requires three creatures to block it, and three is more than two, so the menace counter just... sits there. Menacingly.

Q: I control Skullbriar, the Walking Grave with a +1/+1 counter on it and The Ozolith. If Skullbriar dies and I put him in the command zone, what happens to the counters? Does he keep them or do they get put on The Ozolith?

A: Both, actually! Ozolith doesn't remove counters from anything. It knows the counters the creature on the battlefield had, and then puts them on itself. Skullbriar will be in the command zone, giggling happily with his counters.

Q: My opponent cast Demigod of Revenge, but when I countered it he said its cast trigger brought it back? I'm confused. How does this work, exactly?

A: It depends when you counter Demigod. If you let the trigger resolve first, then counter it, Demigod will be left in the graveyard. However, if you counter it before the trigger resolves, Demigod will be in the graveyard to be returned by the trigger.

If you ever find yourself in this silly situation, be sure you communicate with your opponent! "Okay, sure, the trigger resolves, then Counterspell."

Q: I control Cast Through Time and cast Part the Waterveil. Do I get to cast Part the Waterveil on my next upkeep?

A: No, you don't. If a spell would be put into your graveyard as it resolves, rebound exiles it instead. But Part the Waterveil never goes to your graveyard, since it exiles itself during resolution. Since it would never go to the graveyard, it can't rebound.

Lavinia has failed this city.
Q: I control Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. My opponent controls three lands and casts Harrow. Can they do that? I thought since they sacrificed a land, Lavinia would stop Harrow.

A: Your opponent can cast Harrow just fine.

Casting a spell has several steps that have occur in order. The fifth step is checking "can this spell still be cast?" This is where Lavinia checks. She'll see that Harrow's converted mana cost is equal to the number of lands your opponent controls, so she'll say "Yep! You can cast Harrow!"

Then, in the eighth step, costs are paid. This is where the land is sacrificed to pay for Harrow. But, since we're past Lavinia's last chance to stop it, the spell will be cast just fine. Must be a harrowing experience for her.

Q: I control Teysa Karlov and Kelsien, the Plague. If I activate Kelsien targeting an opponent's creature, and later this turn it dies, how many experience counters do I get?

A: You'll just get one counter.

Kelsien doesn't trigger when a creature dies; the delayed trigger his ability sets up triggers. Since the delayed trigger isn't "a permanent you control," Teysa won't make it trigger an additional time.

Q: I control Omniscience. Can I cast Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt mutated for free?

A: No, you can't do that. Mutate and "without paying its mana cost" are both alternate mana costs, and you can only apply one of those to any given spell. If you want to cast Snapdax for free, you'll have to cast it as a "normal" creature spell.

Q: I want Obosh, the Preypiercer to be my companion. Can I have Bonecrusher Giant in my starting deck?

A: You can! Unless you're in the process of casting it, an adventurer card only has the characteristics of the creature part. Bonecrusher Giant is just Bonecrusher Giant as far as deckbuilding is concerned, so its mana cost is and its converted mana cost is 3. Obosh can happily have this card in the starting deck.

Q: Great! Does that mean I can also have Insult // Injury in a deck and have Obosh as my companion?

A: Not so fast. Split cards work differently from adventurer cards. A split card has the properties of both sides when it's in the deck, so Insult // Injury has a mana cost of and a converted mana cost of 6. Obosh isn't happy with this one.

Q: I control Watcher for Tomorrow which has a card exiled with its hideaway ability. My opponent enchants Watcher with Imprisoned in the Moon. If Watcher dies, do I get the exiled card?

A: No, you won't. When Watcher died, it didn't have any abilities, so its "leaves the battlefield" trigger didn't exist. The exiled card will stay hidden away, unfortunately. You can still look at it wistfully, though!

Q: I control Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. My opponent controls Manabarbs and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. If I tap a land for mana, how much damage do I take?

A: Would you rather take 0 or 1? It's your choice!

When you tap a land for mana, Manabarbs triggers and wants to deal 1 damage to you. Now, you have two effects that want to apply: Gisela wants to prevent half the damage rounded up, and Torbran wants to make it deal two more. Since you're being affected, you choose which effect applies first.

If you apply Torbran's effect first, the "deal 1 damage" becomes "deal 3 damage." Gisela then applies to that, and prevents half of it, rounded up. Half of 3 is 1.5, rounded up to 2, so Gisela will prevent 2 damage and you'll take 1.

Alternatively, if you apply Gisela's effect first, she'll prevent half of 1 rounded up, which is 1! Then Torbran's effect has nothing to apply to anymore because you're no longer being dealt damage - Gisela prevented it all.

Q: I control Lucky Clover and cast Stomp, targeting my opponent's Frost Titan. I know I have to pay so the original Stomp isn't countered, but do I have to pay for the copy as well?

A: You sure do. Frost Titan doesn't care if the spell was actually cast or not. The Stomp copy is still a spell, and it's targeting Frost Titan, so you'll have to pay the if you want it to resolve.

Q: I want Kaheera, the Orphanguard to be my companion. Can I play Amoeboid Changeling in my deck?

A: You can. Changeling is a characteristic-defining ability, which means it works everywhere all the time. This means that Amoeboid Changeling is a Cat card (and an Elemental card and a Nightmare card and...), so Kaheera is pleased by this very weird friend.

Note that Changeling is what makes this work, not the Shapeshifter creature type. Amoeboid Changeling is fair game for Kaheera, but Aetherling is not.

Wish I may, wish I might
First mutation I make tonight
Q: I mutate Illuna, Apex of Wishes onto Dungrove Elder and put Illuna on top. What is the permanent's power and toughness?

A: It'll be equal to the number of Forests you control. The top card determines the base values of the permanent's power and toughness. The characteristic-defining ability from Dungrove Elder doesn't apply until way down in layer 7, after all the mutate stuff, so it'll apply.

Q: My opponent resolved chapter II of their Elspeth Conquers Death. I destroyed their saga with a Disenchant, but they said I still have to pay for the next spell I tried to cast. Help?

A: Your opponent is correct. When Elspeth Conquers Death's second chapter ability resolves, it creates an effect that lasts until your opponent's next turn. Removing the saga won't stop the effect.

Q: So, I know with Manamorphose I have to choose what colors of mana I'm adding before I draw a card. Do I have to choose what mana I'm adding with Apex of Power before I exile the cards? They're the same, right?

A: Nope. You have to perform the instructions on the card in the order they're written. For Manamorphose, it's "add mana, then draw." For Apex, it's "exile cards, then add mana." You'll know what cards are exiled by Apex of Power before you figure out what color of mana you want to add.

Q: I control Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. I activate his -2 ability targeting my Grizzly Bears, and my opponent responds by Murdering my Bears. Do I still reveal cards?

A: You don't. Lukka's -2 ability only has a single target. If that target is removed, then the ability won't resolve, and you won't perform any of its instructions.

I think that's all for this week, friends! Join us next week for some sweet questions from Charlotte.

- Andrew

About the Author:
Andrew is a Level 2 judge from Dallas, TX who spends too much time on his computer.


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