Published on 06/01/2020


Cranial Translation
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Everyone else's calendars are filled with holes, right?
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! According to my calendar, it's.... June?!? When did this happen? I swear, just a few weeks ago we were all celebrating Easter, and now we're into June? At this rate, as soon as we start getting into summer, it'll be over before we know it, and we'll already be in the fall.

But I think it's about time that we address the reason why you're here - rules questions! Before we get into the article itself, let's just remind all of you that you can send us your rules questions, and we'll send you an answer back. We may even feature your question in a future article. You can us send short questions to us via Twitter at @CranialTweet, and you can send us longer questions at .

Q: My opponent just cast Grimdancer. Is there a chance for me to kill Grimdancer with the first mode of Heartless Act before it gets the counters?

A: Nope, there is not. Grimdancer doesn't have a triggered ability that gives it counters, it has a replacement effect that causes it to enter the battlefield with the two counters. There's never a point where Grimdancer is on the battlefield without the two keyword counters, so you won't be able to kill it with the first mode of Heartless Act without finding another way to remove those two counters first.

Q: I control two Labyrinth Raptors and I attack with one of them. My opponent blocks it with two creatures. Will my Raptor end up taking any damage in combat?

A: Nope, it won't. After the Raptor becomes blocked, we have two Raptor triggers that need to go on the stack (one for each Raptor). When each trigger resolves, your opponent will have to sacrifice a creature blocking the Raptor. Since your opponent sacrificed both creatures blocking the Raptor, it won't take any damage in combat from the creatures in combat (and since the Raptor is still considered blocked, it will not deal any damage in combat either).

Q: I activate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's -2 ability, and then I cast a Honey Mammoth. My opponent counters my Mammoth with Essence Scatter. Do I still get to search my library for a creature card?

A: Yes you do. Vivien's ability triggers when you cast the creature spell. By the time your opponent gets priority, the trigger from Vivien is already on the stack and will still resolve even if the spell that triggered it is countered. While they can counter your Mammoth, that won't stop you from being able to search for a creature with a converted mana cost of five or less to put onto the battlefield.

Q: I cast Back for More, intending to return a Void Beckoner and fight an opponent's creature. Can my opponent counter Back for More with Keep Safe?

A: Nope, they can't counter it. Back for More has a single target - a target creature card in your graveyard. Choosing what your creature will fight is a reflexive trigger that triggers when Back for More returns the Beckoner to the battlefield, not something that's chosen when you cast Back for More. Keep Safe can only target a spell that targets one of their permanents, not a triggered ability, so your opponent cannot stop the fight between Void Beckoner and their creature with Keep Safe.

Q: I control Rielle, the Everwise and a Song of Creation. Assuming that I haven't discarded any cards earlier in the turn, what happens when I discard my hand during the end step?

A: Since it's the first time you've discarded cards that turn, Rielle's ability will trigger, and you'll draw cards equal to the number of cards you discarded to the Song's trigger. As long as you don't end up with eight or more cards in your hand, nothing else will really happen at this point - the Song doesn't care if you end up with cards in your hand after its triggered ability resolves. But if you end up with eight or more cards in hand, when you move to the cleanup step, you'll discard down to your maximum hand size of seven cards.

Q: I control Leyline of Anticipation and a Cunning Nightbonder. Does that make all of my spells cost one less and uncounterable?

A: Nope, the Nightbonder isn't too useful here. The Leyline lets you cast spells as though they had flash, but it doesn't actually give your spells flash. The Nightbonder needs the spell to have flash for it to apply to the spell, so the Nightbonder won't reduce the cost of your spells cast thanks to the Leyline - they need to have flash, or the effect needs to give them flash (like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir) instead of just letting you cast it as though it had flash.

Did we fall into one of those Tolarian time bubbles?

Q: I control an Ugin's Conjurant with four +1/+1 counters on it. My opponent targets it with Stomp. What happens to my Conjurant?

A: Your Conjurant is dead. If the Conjurant would be dealt damage, you prevent that damage and remove that many counters from the Conjurant. But removing the counters isn't reliant upon the damage actually being prevented. Stomp's damage can't be prevented, so the Conjurant's ability will fail to prevent the two damage from Stomp, but the Conjurant's ability will still remove two +1/+1 counters from it. The Conjurant ends up as a 2/2 with two damage marked on it, and the Conjurant will die.

Q: If I control Immolation Shaman, will my opponent take damage if they cycle a Flourishing Fox?

A: Nope, they won't take any damage. The Shaman's ability only triggers if they activate an ability of an artifact, creature, or land on the battlefield. To trigger off of an activated ability being activated in another zone, it would have to use the word "card". The Shaman doesn't use the word "card", so it won't care if an opponent cycles a card from their hand and they won't take any damage from cycling the Fox.

Q: I control a Cloudpiercer. I cast Necropanther, mutating it with Cloudpiercer. Can I stack the two triggers so I can discard Duskfang Mentor to the Cloudpiercer trigger and return it with the Necropanther trigger?

A: No you cannot. While you get to choose the order the two triggers go on the stack, you have to choose a target for Necropanther's trigger when it's put on the stack. The Mentor is still in your hand at that point, not in your graveyard, so it's not a legal target for Necropanther's trigger, even if you can get it into the graveyard before Necropanther's trigger resolves.

Q: I control The Wanderer, and my opponent just resolved Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Will The Wanderer prevent me from losing life to the Gray Merchant's triggered ability?

A: No it will not. The Wanderer only works against damage. It won't do anything about an effect that causes you to lose life. Since Gray Merchant's trigger doesn't deal any damage, The Wanderer won't interact with it at all.

Q: I control Oath of Chandra and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I cast Yorion, Sky Nomad, exiling Chandra and her Oath. Is there a way to stack the triggers so the Oath will see Chandra returning and I can deal 2 damage to each opponent?

A: No for a couple of reasons. First off, the Oath has to be on the battlefield when the end step begins in order to trigger. Since Yorion's ability returns the Oath during your end step, it's too late for the Oath's end step ability to trigger. Even if you choose to blink only Chandra and leave the Oath on the battlefield, it still wouldn't work. The Oath has an intervening if trigger, meaning it only triggers if, by the time the end step begins, a planeswalker has entered the battlefield under your control that turn. While Yorion will be returning a planeswalker during the end step, it doesn't return Chandra in time for her Oath to trigger, so the Oath still wouldn't trigger.

Q: I cast a spell, and my opponent casts Mindbreak Trap to exile my spell. If I cast Veil of Summer, will I save my spell?

A: Nope, all you'll succeed in doing is drawing a card. The Veil will prevent you spells from being countered, but Mindbreak Trap doesn't counter the spell - it exiles the spell. Exiling a spell doesn't count as countering the spell, so the Veil won't stop your opponent's Trap from exiling your spell when it resolves.

Q: I control a single creature - Mistform Ultimus. If I want to cast Of One Mind, how much will it cost?

A: You don't get a discount, so it will cost to cast. To get the discount, you need to control a Human and a non-Human creature. While the Ultimus is all creature types, to count as a non-Human, it can't have the Human creature type. The Ultimus will count as a Human creature, but not a non-Human creature, so you'll pay full price to cast the Mind.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
into the future.

Q: If I attack with my Etched Champion with protection from all colors, can my opponent block it with an Eldrazi Displacer?

A: Yep, the Displacer can block the Champion. The Champion has protection from all colors, but even though the Displacer has a white mana symbol in its mana cost, its is a colorless card thanks to devoid. Since the Displacer is colorless, it can block the Champion.

Q: If I control Persistent Nightmare and I Cloudshift it, what happens to my Nightmare?

A: Cloudshift exiles the Nightmare, and it goes back to its front face since it's no longer on the battlefield. Then Cloudshift tries to return it to the battlefield. Unfortunately for you, the front face of Persistent Nightmare is Startled Awake, which is a sorcery. And we can't put a sorcery onto the battlefield. If an effect would try to put a sorcery onto the battlefield, it stays in its previous zone instead, so your Started Awake is stuck in exile for the rest of the game.

Q: I cast Apocalypse Hydra with X=5. If I have a Dragon Breath in my graveyard, will I be able to attach the Breath to my Hydra?

A: No you will not. The Breath cares about the converted mana cost of the creature that entered the battlefield, not the converted mana cost of the spell on the stack. While the Hydra's converted mana cost on the stack was seven, once it entered the battlefield, its converted mana cost is only two, and two is not six or greater, so the Breath's ability will not trigger.

Q: If I attack with a Goblin Piledriver, can my opponent Stifle the triggered ability and keep my Piledriver a 1/2?

A: Yep, they can counter the Piledriver's ability with Stifle. Goblin Piledriver has protection from blue, but only the Piledriver itself has protection - it triggered ability on the stack won't have protection. Since Stifle is targeting the ability on the stack, not the Piledriver itself, your opponent is free to counter the trigger with Stifle to keep it as a 1/2 for that combat.

Q: I control Phelddagrif and an Idol of Oblivion. If I activate Phelddagrif's first ability, can I activate the Idol's first ability and draw a card?

A: You cannot. To be able to activate the Idol's first ability, you have to be the one creating the token. While you control Phelddagrif's ability, the ability is instructing your opponent to create the token, not you. Since you didn't create the token, you haven't fulfilled the Idol's condition and you can't activate the ability to draw a card.

Q: I'm in a multiplayer game, and one of my opponents controls a Propaganda. I attack another one of my opponents with Capricopian. If that opponent chooses to activate Capricopian's ability, can they make it attack the opponent with Propaganda, and does someone have to pay the Propaganda tax?

A: Yep, they can make Capricopian attack the player with Propaganda, and no extra mana will have to be paid. Propaganda only applies if the creature is being declared as an attacker. It doesn't apply if an already attacking creature is changed to be attacking them. So if you don't feel like paying the Propaganda tax, you can attack a different opponent, and that opponent can activate Capricopian's ability and make it attack the player with Propaganda.

Q: Do I have a chance to kill Kathril, Aspect Warper with a Lightning Strike before it distributes keyword counters and gains +1/+1 counters?

A: Yep, you can. Kathril's triggered ability uses the stack, so you'll get priority before the triggered ability resolves. This won't stop the trigger from resolving, so they'll be able to distribute the keyword ability counters among their other creatures, but since Kathril is no longer on the battlefield, it won't get any +1/+1 counters.

That's all the time I have for this week. We'll see you all again next week!


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