Published on 11/30/2020

Legen... Wait for it... Dary

Cranial Translation
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I also enjoy punching time as a hobby.
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion. I assume you've all heard about Magic latest set Commander Legends, right? Draftable commander has been something people have been asking about for a long time, and Commander Legends delivers. But not only drafting, but a whole pile of new legendary creatures and partners to build decks around. Most of the partners aren't terribly exciting to me to build around, but there's a few normal commanders that I'm interested in building around, like Obeka, Brute Chronologist, who's a Sundial of the Infinite that sits in the command zone, or Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant, that looks like fun if I can abuse flicker effects to flicker high converted mana cost cards every turn.

But as I brew some deck, I'll be sure to set aside some time for some Commander Legends rules questions. Remember: if you have a rules question you'd like answered, you can send it in and we'll send an answer back. We might even feature your question in a future article. You can send shorter questions to us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send longer questions to our e-mail account .

Q: I activate the encore ability of Fathom Fleet Swordjack, getting three tokens. If I attack with the tokens, then end the turn with Obeka, Brute Chronologist's ability, what happens to my tokens?

A: It comes down to when you end the turn. If you end the turn before your end step, the sacrifice trigger from encore will just wait for the following turn's end step to trigger. More than likely, this means your opponent's end step, so your tokens would hang around until the end of your opponent's turn, and then they'll be sacrificed.

But if you wait for your end step, you can keep your tokens around indefinitely. If you end the turn with the sacrifice trigger on the stack, the ability is removed from the stack and won't resolve. But since it triggered, that means it won't trigger again, even on a future end step. By waiting for your end step, you'll be able to keep your encore tokens around forever.

Q: I control Nadier's Nightblade and a board full of tokens. My opponent has had enough, and casts Winds of Rath. Will the Nightblade still trigger for my other tokens leaving play?

A: Yep, you'll still get your triggers. The Nightblade is leaving the battlefield at the same time as your token, so the Nightblade will see them leaving the battlefield and will trigger for them. So while your token army has been destroyed, you still get to drain your opponents for each token that was destroyed by the Rath.

Q: I control Krark, the Thumbless and a Sakashima of a Thousand Faces that's a copy of Krark. I cast Prying Eyes. The first Krark trigger resolves, and I lose the flip, so Prying Eyes returns to my hand. But what happens with the second Krark trigger?

A: Krark's trigger doesn't target the spell, so the spell not being on the stack when the second trigger resolves doesn't really matter for the trigger. If you lose Krark's flip, nothing happens since the spell isn't on the stack (it's back in your hand because of the first trigger), and nothing is returned to your hand.

But if you win the flip, you still get a copy of the spell. Since Krark's trigger does not target the spell, if the spell isn't on the stack when the trigger resolves and you need to make a copy of it, you use the last-known information about the spell. When the spell was last on the stack, it was Prying Eyes, so you'll still get a copy of Prying Eyes, even though the original Eyes was returned to your hand by the first Krark trigger resolving.

Q: I just cast Phyrexian Rager. In response to the Rager's enter the battlefield trigger, two of my opponents flash in Hullbreacher. How do we determine who gets the treasure token?

A: The choice is yours. We have two replacement effects that want to apply to your draw, and since it's your draw that's being affected, you get to choose which replacement effect will apply first (the order the Hullbreachers entered the battlefield doesn't matter). The replacement effect you choose to apply will replace your draw with that opponent creating a treasure, and since there's no more draw, the other replacement effect doesn't do anything, so the opponent of your choice will end up creating the treasure and the other opponent get nothing.

Q: What if one opponent flashed in Hullbreacher, but the other opponent flashed in Notion Thief? Does anything change?

A: In this case, the player with Hullbreacher will always "win". When you would draw, you choose one of the two replacement effects to apply. If you apply Hullbreacher's effect first, then the draw is replaced with that opponent creating a treasure, and the Thief won't do anything since there's no draw to apply.

If you choose to apply the Thief first, then the Thief steals the draw from you. But Hullbreacher hasn't applied to this draw event yet, so now we apply Hullbreacher and the controller of Hullbreacher steals the draw from the controller of the Thief and Hullbreacher's controller gets the treasure. So no matter what order the replacement effects are applied in, the controller of Hullbreacher will end up with the treasure and the controller of the Thief does not get to draw.

Q: I've read Bladegriff Prototype five times now, and I still don't understand what's its doing. Can you explain how its triggered ability works?

A: Sure. When the Prototype deals combat damage to an opponent, the opponent you damaged chooses a nonland permanent that you (the player that controls the Prototype) don't control, and that nonland permanent is destroyed.

If this was a duel, then they'd be choosing a nonland permanent they control to destroy. But since Commander Legends is a multiplayer format, it's likely that your opponent isn't going to choose to destroy something they control - they'll choose a permanent controlled by one of your mutual opponents to destroy. Think of it is "Let me hit you with my Prototype, and then you can destroy the scary Sengir, the Dark Baron controlled by our other opponent" type of card.

Q: I control a Horizon Stone and I sacrifice my Jeweled Lotus for mana, but don't use it. When the Stone turns it into colorless mana, does it also lose the restriction on the mana?

A: It does not. All the Stone's ability does is make the mana colorless and keep it in your mana pool. It won't remove any restrictions on the mana. So you'll keep the mana that you got from the Lotus, but that mana can still only be used to cast a commander, not for any other purpose.

For all those people who ask
"Does mana burn still exist?"

Q: Let's say I control Fiery Emancipation and activate Yurlok of Scorch Thrash to add three mana to everyone's mana pool. If my opponents are unable to use that mana, will they lose triple the life?

A: Nope, there's no interaction here. The Emancipation only applies if damage would be dealt to an opponent, but Yurlok's ability causes players to lose life when they lose unspent mana. A loss of life is not damage, so your opponents will not lose triple the life from losing unspent mana.

Q: My opponent controls Esior, Wardwing Familiar, and then casts their commander. Do I have to pay any extra mana if I want to counter their commander with Arcane Denial

A: Nope, you don't have to pay extra mana. Esior only applies a tax to a commander permanent that's being targeted by a spell. It does not affect commander spells on the stack or commander cards in any other zone. Esior will protect commanders once they're on the battlefield, but won't protect commanders on the way to the battlefield when they're cast.

Q: If I control Ghen, Arcanum Weaver and a Court of Ire, can I sacrifice and return the Court to the battlefield with Ghen's ability?

A: No you cannot. We have to choose targets for the ability before we pay costs to activate the ability. When we're choosing a target enchantment card to return, the Court of Ire is still on the battlefield, not in the graveyard. Since the Court isn't in the graveyard yet, you can't choose to return the same enchantment that you sacrifice to activate Ghen's ability.

Q: My opponent attacks with Armored Skyhunter. In response to the Skyhunter's attack trigger, I flash in Opposition Agent. Do I control my opponent while they're resolving the Skyhunter's trigger?

A: No you do not. Your opponent is looking at some cards in their library, but they're not searching those cards. It's only a search if the effects says that they searching. Since your opponent is not searching their library, the Agent's ability won't come into effect and you won't control your opponent while they're resolving the Skyhunter trigger.

Q: My opponent controls Archelos, Lagoon Mystic, which is currently untapped. I play a Charcoal Diamond. Does the Diamond enter tapped or untapped?

A: It's your choice. We have two replacement effects that affect how the Diamond enters the battlefield - Archelos wants it to enter untapped, and the Diamond's own ability wants it to enter tapped. Since you control the affected object, you choose the order the replacement effects are applied in. If you apply the Diamond's effect first, then Archelos's effect, the Diamond will enters the battlefield untapped (and I imagine you'd rather have an untapped Diamond rather than a tapped Diamond).

Q: I control Nevinyrral, Urborg Tyrant. If my opponent controls an Ambush Viper, can they can Ancient Animus and force their Viper to fight my Nevinyrral?

A: Yep, your Nevinyrral will fight, and having hexproof from creatures won't save it. The Animus targets the creatures that will fight, but the creatures fighting don't target each other. That means that having hexproof from creatures won't prevent the damage the Viper would deal to Nevinyrral, and your Nevinyrral will die since it was dealt damage by a source with deathtouch (your opponent's Viper will also die, but they'll likely be content with that).

So that's what a Rakdos
Zedruu the Greathearted looks like.

Q: My opponent controls Entourage of Trest. I have a Ghastly Demise in hand and three cards in my graveyard. Can I cast the Demise and kill my opponent's Entourage?

A: You're free to cast it, but the Entourage will not be destroyed. The Demise can target any nonblack creature, but it checks the number of cards in your graveyard versus the toughness of the creature when it resolves, and if the first number isn't equal to or greater than the second number, the Demise won't destroy the creature. The Demise itself won't count for its own effect, since it won't go to the graveyard until the final step of resolution. So when the Demise resolves, it sees you have three cards in your graveyard, and the Entourage has a toughness of four, and the Entourage won't be destroyed.

Q: I cast Wheel of Misfortune. But everyone picks the same number - 0. What happens?

A: A whole lot of nothing. The highest number chosen was 0, so everyone takes zero damage. But everyone also chose the lowest number, which means that no one gets the wheel effect and won't get a fresh hand of cards.

Q: I have my commander - Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools - in play with 10 loyalty on it. If I activate Tevesh Szat's -10 ability, will it return itself from the command zone?

A: Yep, Tevesh Szat can get himself out of the command zone. After you activate the -10 ability, Tevesh Szat is a planeswalker with 0 loyalty counters, so it goes to the graveyard, and then you can move him to the command zone. When his -10 ability resolves, since Tevesh Szat is back in the command zone, his ability can grab himself out of the command zone and will put him back onto the battlefield.

Q: I control Tormod, the Desecrator and my commander. My opponent Murders my commander. Assuming I put my commander in the command zone, will Tormod trigger and give me a token?

A: Yep, Tormod will trigger. With the rules change over the summer, commanders will spend a brief time in the graveyard before they're moved to the command zone when state-based actions are checked, instead of being put into the command zone instead of the graveyard. Since the commander will move from the graveyard to the command zone, Tormod will trigger and you'll get a zombie token.

Q: I control a Hans Eriksson equipped with a Lightning Greaves. I attack with Hans, and I put Annoyed Altisaur onto the battlefield. Will Hans end up fighting the Altisaur?

A: Even with a new pair of boots, Hans can't escape the fight. While Hans has shroud, the fight trigger from Hans doesn't target Hans at all, so having shroud won't help. The Altisaur will still end up fighting Hans (and this is likely a fight that Hans will not win).

Q: Can I use Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist's ability to attach a Skullclamp to an opponent's 1/1 creature? If so, who draws the cards?

A: Yep, you can attach the Skullclamp to your opponent's 1/1, and you will draw the cards. Ardenn lets you attach any number of auras or equipment to a permanent or player, but there's no requirement that you have to target a permanent you control. If your opponent controls an annoying 1/1, you can use Ardenn's ability to attach Skullclamp to your opponent's creature, killing it. But you still control Skullclamp, even if it ended up attached to an opponent's creature, so you'll control Skullclamp's triggered ability and you'll draw the cards, not the controller of the creature that died.

Q: I'm playing a game of Vintage, and my opponent plays War Room and tells me that since they don't have a commander, they can activate the last ability without paying any life. Is that right?

A: Your opponent is incorrect. If you're not playing a game of commander or brawl, then your game doesn't have a commander. When War Room checks your commander's color identity, it returns an undefined answer, and a cost that gets back an undefined answer is an unpayable cost. So your opponent is free to tap the War Room for colorless mana, but they won't be able to activate the last ability to draw a card since there's no commander to reference.

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


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