Published on 01/04/2021

New Year, Who Dis?

Cranial Translation
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Happy New Year!
Greetings and welcome back to another issue of Cranial Insertion. The year is now 2021, and that's a bit hard to believe because I still write 2017 on my checks, since I think that was the last time I actually wrote a check. Anyway, 2020 is behind us, and I'm hopeful that 2021 will be a better year.

One thing that's not changing with the new year is that we're still here to answer your rules questions. If you have questions for us, you can email them to or tweet short questions to @CranialTweet. One of our writers will respond to you, and your question might appear in a future article.

Q: If I control Conclave Mentor, does Stonecoil Serpent enter the battlefield with an extra +1/+1 counter?

A: Yup! Abilities that refer to a counter being put on a creature not only refer to putting a counter on a creature that's on the battlefield, but also to a creature entering the battlefield with a counter on it.

Q: Can I proliferate loyalty counters on a planeswalker?

A: Absolutely! Proliferate means "choose any number of permanents and/or players that have a counter, then give each one an additional counter of each kind that permanent or player already has." A planeswalker is a permanent that has at least one loyalty counter on it, so you can choose it and proliferate will give it another loyalty counter.

Q: I cast Clone to copy one of my opponent's creatures. Can my opponent sacrifice the creature I'm choosing in order to stop me from copying it?

A: The answer is mostly no. Clone doesn't target, so you don't have to announce at the time you cast it what you intend to copy with it. You only choose what to copy when Clone resolves, and players don't get an opportunity to respond to this choice. Your opponent could respond to Clone by sacrificing a potential choice, but then you can copy any other creature that's still on the battlefield when Clone resolves.

If you do announce in advance what you're intending to copy, your opponent can sacrifice that creature in response to Clone, but then you still get to choose a different creature when Clone resolves.

Q: My opponent and I both control Blood Moon. If I use Crystal Spray to change my Blood Moon to say "Islands" instead of "Mountains", are nonbasic lands Islands now?

A: Maybe. That depends on whether your Blood Moon entered the battlefield more recently. In layer 3, the text-changing effect from Crystal Spray changes your Blood Moon to say "Nonbasic lands are Islands." In layer 4, your opponent's Blood Moon changes nonbasic lands to Mountains while your Blood Moon changes nonbasic lands to Islands. Those two effects don't depend on each other, so they're applied in timestamp order and the more recent effect wins.

Q: I control Flamekin Herald and my commander is Maelstrom Wanderer. If I cast Maelstrom Wanderer, does it cascade three times?

A: Yup. Maelstrom Wanderer already has two instances of cascade, and Flamekin Herald gives it a third instance of cascade. Each instance triggers separately, so you'll get three separate cascade triggers here.

Q: If Maelstrom Wanderer cascades into two more spells, let's say spell B and spell C, and spell B has cascade as well, in which order do the spells resolve?

A: Well, first off, you won't know right away which two spells Maelstrom Wanderer will cascade into. Casting Maelstrom Wanderer triggers two instances of cascade that go on the stack above Maelstrom Wanderer itself. As you resolve the first instance of cascade, you'll hit spell B, which you cast. If spell B also has cascade, its cascade ability goes on top of spell B. At this point, the stack looks like this: Spell B's cascade ability (top) — Spell B — Maelstrom Wanderer's second cascade ability — Maelstrom Wanderer (bottom). The topmost object resolves first, so now you do spell B's cascade ability. The spell you hit with this ability goes on top of spell B and resolves next. Then spell B resolves. Then Maelstrom Wanderer's second cascade ability resolves, at which point you'll cast the spell you called spell C, which will resolve before Maelstrom Wanderer itself finally resolves.

Q: Does Thalia, Guardian of Thraben stop my opponent from cascading if they don't have any mana to pay Thalia's tax?

A: Assuming that you're opponent cascaded into a noncreature spell, yes. Cascade allows them to cast the spell without paying its mana cost, which is the string of mana symbols in the top right corner of the card. Any additional costs must still be paid, even if they consist of a mana payment, such as the additional that Thalia's ability imposes. If your opponent can't pay that cost, then they can't cast the spell they cascaded into, so it'll go on the bottom of their library along with the other cards they revealed.

We wish you a triumphant new year.
Q: I control Abundance and Chains of Mephistopheles, and I use Jace's Triumph to draw two cards. How do Abundance and Chains of Mephistopheles interact here?

A: Both Abundance and Chains of Mephistopheles create replacement effects that want to change what happens when you draw a card, so you choose one of those effects to apply. If you choose Abundance's effect, you're no longer drawing a card, so the Chains effect is no longer applicable, and you just do what Abundance tells you to do. If you really want to discard, you could apply the Chains effect first, and then Abundance's effect still applies afterwards to the card you draw after discarding. Also, since you're drawing two cards, one after the other, you make this choice separately for each card draw.

Q: My opponent used Oko, Thief of Crowns to steal one of my creatures by exchanging it for a Food token. If I take the creature back with Zealous Conscripts, do I get to keep it indefinitely?

A: No, you only get it until end of turn. Zealous Conscripts creates a control-changing effect that overrides Oko's effect, but it doesn't end Oko's effect entirely. At the end of the turn, the control-changing effect from Zealous Conscripts ends, but Oko's effect is still there, so your opponent regains control of the creature then.

Q: If I use the first mode of Midnight Charm and my opponent sacrifices the creature in response, do I still gain 1 life?

A: No. Midnight Charm has only one target, which your opponent has rendered illegal by sacrificing it. Since Midnight Charm has no legal targets left, it does not resolve and none of its effects happen.

Q: I'm in a four-player game and someone controls Hive Mind. If I cast Command the Dreadhorde on my turn, what exactly happens?

A: A lot happens! First, your three opponents get copies of Command the Dreadhorde, and the copies are made in turn order. The player to your left puts their copy on the stack first and chooses their targets, then the player across from you does this, and finally the player to your right does this. All this happens after you cast the original spell and announced its targets, so every player knows what targets the players before them chose, which means that they can "steal" those targets if they want to and if they can afford to be dealt that much damage.

The spells then resolve in last-in-first-out order, so the Command the Dreadhorde of the player to your right resolves first, dealing them damage equal to the targeted cards' total converted mana cost and putting the cards onto the battlefield under their control. Then the player across from you resolves their Command the Dreadhorde. If any of its targets are still legal, the spell resolves and does as much as it can. The targets that left the graveyard are illegal and won't be counted for the damage calculation, but the targets that are still legal will be counted, and will be put onto the battlefield under that player's control. Then, the player to your left resolves their Command the Dreadhorde in the same way, and finally you do the same.

Q: A face-down Maelstrom Djinn gets turned face up, and then somehow gets turned face-down again. Do the time counters on it get removed?

A: Nope. Turning a permanent face-down doesn't affect any counters that are on it, so the time counters on it remain. Also, Maelstrom Djinn was given vanishing by a triggered ability when it was turned face-up, and the effect from that triggered ability lasts indefinitely and continues to affect the face-down Maelstrom Djinn, so the face-down Maelstrom Djinn still has vanishing.

Q: I control Eligeth, Crossroads Augur and copy it with Sakashima of a Thousand Faces. If I use Omenspeaker to scry 2, will I draw four cards?

A: No, you'll only draw two cards. Eligeth's ability isn't a triggered ability that adds drawing to scrying, it's a replacement effect that replaces scrying with drawing. Once one of those effects has been applied, the scry has been replaced by a draw, so the second effect is no longer applicable.

Q: My opponent controls Vigor and I control a 10/10 with trample. If I attack with it and my opponent blocks it with a 1/1 token, does Vigor's effect stop the trample damage?

A: No. Trample changes how damage is assigned, while Vigor's effect changes what happens when the damage is dealt. While you assign your 10/10's combat damage, you only have to assign "lethal damage" to the 1/1, where lethal damage is the creature's toughness minus any damage already marked on it. This calculation doesn't care whether that damage would actually kill the creature when it's dealt. In this case, "lethal damage" for the blocker is 1, so you can assign 1 to the blocker and 9 to your opponent.

We hope you kept Chandra
away from your fireworks.
Q: I still control a 10/10, and my opponent controls Vigor and a bunch of 1/1 tokens. If I use Chandra's Ignition to deal 10 damage, does that kill Vigor and all the tokens, or just Vigor?

A: Just Vigor. The damage is dealt to all creatures at the same time, and at that time Vigor is still on the battlefield, so the damage to the tokens is prevented and the tokens get ten +1/+1 counters on them. I hope you have something to defend yourself against a swarm of 11/11 tokens.

Q: Wheel of Misfortune resolves and all players choose zero. What happens?

A: A big bowl of nothing happens. Since each player chose zero, zero is simultaneously the highest and lowest number. All players chose the highest number, so each of them is dealt no damage. Then the game checks which players didn't choose the lowest number. Since all players chose the lowest number, nobody didn't choose the lowest number, so nobody discards their hand and draws seven cards.

Q: I control Megrim and my opponent discards their hand of three cards. How much damage does Megrim deal?

A: It deals a total of 6 damage. Your opponent discarded three cards at the same time, and Megrim triggers separately for each individual card, so it triggers and resolves three times.

Q: Does Authority of the Consuls stop a creature that's put onto the battlefield with Kaalia of the Vast from attacking?

A: Not even a little bit. Kaalia's ability puts a creature onto the battlefield tapped and attacking, and Authority of the Consols also tries to tap that creature at the same time. There is no such thing as "super tapped" or "extra tapped", so Authority of the Consuls does nothing here.

Q: My opponent controls Smothering Tithe and I draw a card. If they don't say anything about Smothering Tithe's trigger, do I have to remind them?

A: No. Your opponent controls Smothering Tithe, so they control the ability and they are responsible for remembering it. You are never required to point out your opponent's triggers, but you may point them out if you want to.

And that's it for today. Thanks for reading and please come back next week for more Magic rules Q&A.

- 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.

For the Hive Mind + Command the Dreadhorde question, am I correct in my understanding that the other players are allowed to change which creature and planeswalker cards are being targeted, but not how many targets there are?

Meaning that if I choose to target every available creature or planeswalker card in graveyards, then the other players are effectively forced to do the same (unless they\'re able to affect the contents of graveyards in response to Hive Mind).

Which would be bad news for the player to my immediate right, who would be forced to take a ton of damage (and then everyone else\'s copies would fizzle).
#1 • Date: 2021-01-14 • Time: 01:02:08 •
Quote (phlip):
For the Hive Mind + Command the Dreadhorde question, am I correct in my understanding that the other players are allowed to change which creature and planeswalker cards are being targeted, but not how many targets there are?

Meaning that if I choose to target every available creature or planeswalker card in graveyards, then the other players are effectively forced to do the same (unless they're able to affect the contents of graveyards in response to Hive Mind).

Which would be bad news for the player to my immediate right, who would be forced to take a ton of damage (and then everyone else's copies would fizzle).

I'm pretty sure that "choose new targets" means that the player may choose a new set of targets, including an empty set if the spell allows that. However, the rule is not 100% clear on that, so I'll double-check this to make sure.
#2 • Date: 2021-01-14 • Time: 12:10:44 •
It turns out that I'm wrong. I read more into "choose new targets" than I should have. Since the rule doesn't say that you're allowed to change the number of targets, you're not allowed to change the number of targets.
#3 • Date: 2021-01-14 • Time: 12:26:29 •

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