Published on 05/25/2020

Akroma's Memorial Day Sale

or, Furiously Slashing Prices

Cranial Translation
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Buy five abilities, get one free!
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion! It's the last Monday in May, which means that it's Memorial Day here in the USA. To celebrate the unofficial start of summer, many business and retailers offer special sales, and our own Memorial Day sale last year was such a success that we're doing it again. We're cranking up the discount from 50% to 75%, which comes out to... (frantically enters numbers into a calculator)... yup, still free!

As always, if you have questions for us, you can email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our authors will get back to you with an answer, and your question might appear in a future article, possibly alongside a pun or pop-culture references, to educate and entertain readers like yourself.

Q: Is there any difference between "Until end of turn, creatures you control get +1/+1" and "Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn"?

A: No, there is no functional difference between those two wordings. Both abilities create a continuous effect that affects the characteristics of objects, and as such it locks in the set of affected objects at the time the effect is created.

Whether the duration is mentioned at the beginning or the end of the sentence is only a matter of what looks better or less ambiguous as an English sentence. Particularly, if the effect gives multiple bonuses, the duration is put at the beginning of the sentence. For example, "Creatures you control gain flying and get +1/+1 until end of turn" could be read as though the creatures gain flying indefinitely, but "Until end of turn, creatures you control gain flying and get +1/+1" is unambiguous.

Q: My Gideon, the Oathsworn is a creature at the moment thanks to his +2 ability. If I mutate him with Vulpikeet and put Vulpikeet on top, what happens? Can the resulting Vulpikeet use Gideon's abilities?

A: Yes, it can. Creatures don't usually have loyalty abilities, but there's nothing in the rules that stops it from having them or using them if they have them. Vulpikeet is now a creature that has all of Gideon's abilties and it can use them just fine on future turns. It won't be able to use an ability this turn because the merged Vulpikeet+Gideon is the same object as the original Gideon, and you already used one of its abilities this turn.

Q: Can I mutate Boneyard Lurker onto Zombie Outlander?

A: Nope. When you cast a creature for its mutate cost, it becomes a mutating creature spell that targets the creature you wish to mutate. Since Zombie Outlander has protection from green, it's not a legal target for a mutating Boneyard Lurker spell.

Q: If my opponent controls Teferi, Time Raveler and I control Hypersonic Dragon, can I cast sorceries during my opponent's turn?

A: No. One of the golden rules of Magic is that if one effect says that something can happen and another effect says that it can't happen, the "can't" effect wins. Teferi's effect is a "can't" effect in disguise since "can only if ..." means the same as "can't unless ..." During your opponent's turn is not a time when you could cast a sorcery, so because of Teferi you can't cast spells regardless of how many effects say that you can.

Q: If I have a deck built to have Lutri, the Spellchaser as my companion, can that deck also include a copy of Lutri?

A: Yup, that's legal. The starting deck that's checked by the companion ability doesn't include the companion card itself, so the companion ability only sees one copy of Lutri in your starting deck.

Q: If I control Hadana's Climb, do I have to attack with a creature to get the +1/+1 counter?

A: Nope. Hadana's Climb has an ability that triggers at the beginning of combat, which means that it triggers in the "beginning of combat" step of the combat phase. This step happens before the declare attackers step, so the ability triggers and resolves before you even decide whether to declare any attackers.

It's more a sort of
electronic sulking machine.
Q: If my opponent controls Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and I cast Solemn Simulacrum, do any of its abilities trigger? If so, in which order do they resolve?

A: Yes, both of its abilities trigger. Solemn Simulacrum enters the battlefield, which triggers its enter-the-battlefield ability, but before that ability can go on the stack, the game has to check state-based actions. Solemn Simulacrum has toughness 0, so it dies immediately, which triggers its dies ability. Now that state-based actions are done, both the enter-the-battlefield ability and the dies ability go on the stack at the same time. Since you control both abilities, you choose in which order they go on the stack, and they resolve in the reverse order.

Q: If I control Lurrus of the Dream Den, can I cast a big Hydroid Krasis from my graveyard?

A: No, you can't. Lurrus's ability checks the converted mana cost of the spell on the stack, not of the card in the graveyard. The converted mana cost of the spell on the stack includes the X you choose, so the only valid choice would be X=0, and the resulting Krasis would have a life expectancy that's even shorter than that of a bowl of petunias improbably coming into existence miles above the surface of Magrathea.

Q: Let's say I control a creature with myriad, such as Herald of the Host, and I give it lifelink with Vizkopa Guildmage. Do the myriad copies of Herald of the Host have lifelink, too?

A: No. Copy effects only copy the copiable characteristics of a permanent, which are the characteristics that are printed on it, as modified by other copy effects, by mutations, and by being face-down. The lifelink ability that the Herald got from the Guildmage is not copiable and won't be given to the token copies.

Q: If I mutate something under Bronzehide Lion, what happens when the Lion dies?

A: Both cards that made up the mutated Lion go to the graveyard, and they'll both be returned to the battlefield as Auras that can give indestructible to the creature they're attached to. As each enters the battlefield, you choose a creature you control to attach it to, and you can choose different creatures for each of them.

Q: If I mutate Gemrazer over or under Butcher Ghoul, when that creature dies do I get both back with a +1/+1 counter?

A: Yup! Just as with the previous question, both cards go to the graveyard and then both cards get returned to the battlefield, except that they're being returned to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on them, not as Auras.

Q: Suppose I control Nightmare Shepherd and I mutate Cavern Whisperer under God-Eternal Bontu. If Bontu dies, can I choose to tuck one of the cards into my library and make a 1/1 token of the other?

A: No, you can't do that. When Bontu dies, this triggers both Nightmare Shepherd's ability and Bontu's own ability. You choose the order in which those triggers go on the stack, but whatever you choose to happen will happen to both Bontu and Cavern Whisperer. If you choose to resolve Nightmare Shepherd's ability first, it will exile both cards and make a token copy of the Bontu/Whisperer mutate stack that existed on the battlefield, and then Bontu's ability can't find either card. If you choose to resolve Bontu's ability first, both cards will get tucked into your library third and fourth from the top (in an order of your choice) and then Nightmare Shepherd's ability can't find the cards to exile to make a token.

Q: What happens when a merged creature phases out with, say, Teferi's Protection? Do the cards that make up the creature phase back in as separate creatures?

A: Nope, there's no reason for that to happen. The mutate stack is one creature that consists of multiple cards, and it phases back in exactly how it phased out, as one merged creature.

Q: I mutate Dreamtail Heron under Lazav, the Multifarious and then use Lazav's ability to copy Grizzly Bears, does it still have flying?

A: No. Both the mutate effect and Lazav's copy effect happen in layer 1a, and since there's no dependency between the two effects, they happen in timestamp order. Since Lazav's copy effect has the later timestamp, this overwrites the abilities Lazav had from Dreamtail Heron.

Please refrain from unnecessary
folly in these difficult times.
Q: If I control Rielle, the Everwise and The Locust God and discard five cards to Rites of Initiation, do I get five Insect tokens and they get +5/+0?

A: You do get five Insect tokens, but they won't get +5/+0. Triggered abilities don't insert themselves into resolving spells; they have to wait for the spell that triggered them to finish resolving before they can even go on the stack. The discard from Rites of Initiation triggers Rielle's ability, but before it can go on the stack, Rites finishes resolving and locks in the +5/+0 effect to creatures you control at that time, so Rielle and The Locust God get +5/+0. Later, Rielle's ability resolves and you draw five cards, which triggers The Locust God's ability five times and you get five Insect tokens, but they are too late to get the +5/+0 bonus.

Q: I mutate a creature under my commander and equip it with Skullclamp, do I draw two cards when my commander dies even if I choose to put it into the command zone?

A: Yup. Your commander goes into the command zone, but the permanent that was represented by the mutate stack goes to the graveyard, and that triggers Skullclamp's ability even if not all cards of the stack end up in the graveyard.

Q: My commander is countered with Memory Lapse and I let it go to the top of my library. If I use Necropotence to exile the top card of my library face-down, can I move it to the command zone instead?

A: No. You're moving a card from a hidden zone to exile face down, and you're not given the opportunity to look at it during this process. Even if you know with 100% certainty that the card is your commander, the game is not allowed to use that knowledge, so the command zone replacement doesn't get the chance to apply.

Q: Once again my commander is countered with Memory Lapse and I let it go to the top of my library. If I crack a fetch land, do I get to know where my commander ends up after I shuffle my library?

A: No. Once your library is shuffled, your library is in a random order, which means you have no knowledge of the position of any card in your library. If you didn't want to lose track of your commander, you should have used the opportunity to put it into the command zone when it got Memory Lapsed.

Q: My commander gets bounced to my hand, and I let it go into my hand rather than put it into the command zone because I'm hoping to recast it without having to pay the commander tax. However, my opponent then casts Timetwister. Do I get to put my commander into the command zone instead of shuffling it into my library?

A: Yup. Your hand is a hidden zone, but you're allowed to look at it, so you know that one of those cards is your commander, and the game knows it, too, so the command zone replacement effect can be applied.

And that's all the time we have for this week. Thanks for reading, and we hope you'll be back next week!

- Carsten Haese

About the Author:
Carsten Haese is a former Level 2 judge based in Toledo, OH. He is retired from active judging, but he still writes for Cranial Insertion and helps organize an annual charity Magic tournament that benefits the National MS Society.


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