Published on 02/22/2021

Jumping on the Banned Wagon

Cranial Translation
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It's hard to find a format where
Uro is legal these days.

Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! In case you missed the big news last weeks, we had a massive update to the banned and restricted list last week. Unless you exclusively play Standard or Commander, it's likely this announcement affected something in the format you play. We even got an unbanning (with Lurrus of the Dream-Den being unbanned in Vintage) and a rules changes with cascade (which we'll get in to with our first question this week).

And once you're done absorbing the impact of that announcement, you can catch up on this week's rules questions. And if you still have rules question, we're available to answer them. We may even use your question in a future article! You can send short questions to our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send longer questions to our e-mail account .

Q: I cast Bloodbraid Elf, and I cascade into Valki, God of Lies. Can I choose to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor instead of Valki?

A: You cannot any longer. With the banned and restricted announcement last week, they also announced a rules change for how cascade works. Now, cascade looks at the converted mana cost of the card in exile and the converted mana cost of the spell on the stack, not just the converted mana cost of the card in exile. Casting Bloodbraid Elf and hitting Valki means that's the card you can cast, but you have to cast the side that has a converted mana cost of three or less. Valki fits the bill, but Tibalt does not since its converted mana cost is seven, so you can't cast Tibalt off of the cascade trigger anymore. If you want to cascade into Tibalt, then the spell with cascade needs to have a converted mana cost of eight or more (like Maelstrom Colossus).

Also, note this rules change only applies to the way cascade works. There are other ways of "cheating" the Tibalt into play, with things like Bring to Light or Emergent Ultimatum that still work to cast the Tibalt side.

Q: I control an Undersea Invader with a Draugr's Helm attached to it. My opponent casts Withercrown on the Invader. What is the Invader's power?

A: Its power is 2. When we're applying effects that mess with a creature's power and/or toughness, we apply effects that set the power and/or toughness first, then we apply effects that raise or lower the power and/or toughness without setting it to a specific number. Since Withercrown's ability sets the power of the Invader to 0, we apply it first. Then we apply the effect from the Helm, giving it +2/+2, and the Invader ends up as a 2/8 when all is said and done.

Q: I gain control of my opponent's Axgard Braggart with Shackles of Treachery. Then I cast The Trickster-God's Heist, targeting the Braggart I stole and my Augury Raven. Will I keep control of both creatures once the turn ends?

A: Nope, you'll still lose control of the Braggart like normal. For an exchange to happen, both creatures involved in the exchange have to be controlled by different players. While you can target two creatures you control with the Heist's triggered ability, when the trigger resolves, nothing happens since you control both creatures. The Chapter I ability of the Heist won't do anything and you'll still lose control of the opponent's Braggart when the turn ends.

Q: I control Colossal Plow. My only untapped creature is Magda, Brazen Outlaw. Can I activate the crew ability of the Plow to tap Magda even though I don't have six power worth of creatures to tap?

A: Nope, you can't do that. When we're activating an ability, we don't accept partial payments - it's all or nothing. To activate the crew ability of the Plow, you need to tap at least six power worth of creatures. Magda's power is just two, so it's not enough to crew the Plow on it's own, so you won't be able to partially crew the Plow in order to get Magda's trigger.

Q: My opponent controls Calamity Bearer. If I target the Bearer with Bind the Monster, how much damage do I take?

A: You'll take six damage. When the Monster's triggered ability resolves, the creature deals damage to you equal to its power. The damage is being dealt by the creature, and since the Bearer is a Giant source of damage, the damage you would take from the trigger is doubled and you'll take six damage from the Monster's triggered ability.

Q: My opponent controls Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, and I control a Vorinclex as well. If I cast Adaptive Shimmerer, how many counters will it enter the battlefield with?

A: It's your choice - either two or three. Both Vorinclexs want to apply to the Shimmerer entering with counters, and since you control the Shimmerer, you choose the order the replacement effects are applied in.

If you apply your opponent's Vorinclex first, then you would end up putting one +1/+1 counter on it instead (since we round the number of counters put on it down), then your Vorinclex doubles it and it enters with two +1/+1 counters. But if you apply your Vorinclex first, the number of counters is doubled to six, then it's cut in half by your opponent's Vorinclex, and the Shimmerer enters with three +1/+1 counters.

Turns out that dumping your library into
your graveyard is still really good.

Q: I play Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor and activate Tibalt's +2 ability. In response, my opponent activates Koma, Cosmos Serpent's to tap Tibalt and prevent its abilities from being activated. Did my opponent just stop Tibalt's ability?

A: Nope, that won't be useful at all. Koma's ability will stop you from activating Tibalt's ability once it resolves, but won't do anything about an ability that's already on the stack - that ability has already been activated and will resolve like normal. But on future turns, they can activate Koma's ability during your upkeep to stop you from activating Tibalt's ability once you get to the main phase.

Q: Will Valkmira, Protector's Shield prevent me from losing life to my opponent's Slitherwisp trigger?

A: Nope, the Shield won't protect you from the trigger. The Shield only works if damage would be dealt to you. It doesn't stop a loss of life. Since Slitherwisp's trigger causes you to lose 1 life, the Shield won't help you out and you'll lose 1 life like normal.

Q: I control a 4/4 Angel token and Valkmira, Protector's Shield. My opponent controls Nylea's Forerunner. If they cast Ram Through targeting their Forerunner and my Angel, what happens?

A: Ram Through is smart, but not smart enough here. To determine excess damage, it looks at the toughness of the creature, and any damage already marked on it to determine how much damage is considered excess. But it doesn't take your Shield into account when determining the excess damage. When Ram Through resolves, it determines that 4 damage would be enough to kill the Angel token, so Ram Through will have the Forerunner deal 4 damage to the Angel token and 1 damage to you. But then your Shield steps in and prevents one damage damage to the Angel and one damage to you. The net result ends up being that the Angel only takes 3 damage and I don't take any damage. Ram Through is determining what is excess damage, so you can't tell Ram Through to deal all 5 damage to the Angel token to kill the Angel token.

Q: What if my opponent casts a second Ram Through with the same targets? Will that kill the Angel?

A: Nope, still no luck here. When Ram Through resolves again, since the 4/4 Angel has 3 damage marked on it already, it determines that 1 damage is enough to kill it, and the remaining 4 damage the Forerunner would deal is dealt to its controller. And once again, the damage is reduced by 1, so the Angel ends up taking zero damage and the Angel's controller takes 3 damage. With the Shield in play, Ram Through is just not going to kill that Angel.

Q: I control a Shark Typhoon and a Starnheim Unleashed foretold in exile. If I cast Starnheim Unleashed via foretell with X=3, how big of a Shark token will I make from the Typhoon trigger?

A: Only a 4/4 token. The converted mana cost of a card is derived from the mana cost of the card. If you're casting a spell via an alternate cost (like foretell), that won't affect the converted mana cost of the card. Starnheim Unleashed has a converted mana cost of four, so you'll make a 4/4 Shark token, even though you put seven mana into casting Starnheim Unleashed via its foretell cost.

Q: I attack with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and I choose to put Erebos, Bleak-Hearted onto the battlefield, but my devotion to black is less than five. Is Erebos still attacking? Will it still return to my hand at the end of turn?

A: No and yes. You can put Erebos onto the battlefield with Ilharg's trigger, since it's a creature card in your hand. But since your devotion is too low once it's on the battlefield, it's not a creature and it won't be attacking at all (since only creatures can be attacking). But at the end of the turn, when Ilharg's delayed trigger resolves, Erebos will still be returned to your hand. Even though Erebos isn't a creature, the delayed trigger still knows what permanent was put onto the battlefield and it will still be returned to your hand like normal, even if it's not a creature when the trigger resolves.

Q: I control Sludge Strider and a Treasure token. If I sacrifice the Treasure token for mana, do I get that mana in time to pay for the Strider's triggered ability?

A: You do! The Strider's ability will trigger when you sacrifice the Treasure token, since an artifact left the battlefield. The Treasure token has a mana ability, so you'll get the mana immediately after activating the ability. So before you even put the Strider's triggered ability on the stack, you have the mana from the Treasure's activated ability, and you can use that mana to pay for the Strider's triggered ability.

Q: My opponent casts Choice of Damnations. If I choose zero, what happens?

A: You have chosen...poorly. Your opponent can make one of two choices here: either they will choose for you to lose 0 life, or they will have you sacrifice all but zero permanents (ie you'll sacrifice all of your permanents). While choosing for you to lose 0 life might sound tempting, the opponent will likely choose for you to sacrifice and you'll sacrifice all of your permanents.

The Field is guilty of
"you make too many zombies too easily".

Q: If I have a Weathered Runestone in play, will that stop my opponent from casting their free spell off of the cascade trigger from Shardless Agent?

A: Nope, the Runestone won't stop your opponent from cascading. With cascade, you're casting the card from exile. It's not being cast from your library (or graveyard), so the Runestone won't care about it and won't stop your opponent from casting the spell they cascaded in to.

Q: I control a Promise of Tomorrow and a Ranar the Ever-Watchful. If another creature I control dies, will exiling it to the Promise's trigger also trigger Ranar and give me a Spirit token?

A: No it will not. Ranar's ability only triggers if the permanent is exiled from your hand or the battlefield. The Promise doesn't exile the creature from either zone - the creature goes to the graveyard, and then the Promise exiles the creature from your graveyard. It's not being exiled from the battlefield, so Ranar doesn't care about it and won't trigger.

Q: I control Obeka, Brute Chronologist and a Humble Defector. Can I activate the Defector's ability, draw two cards, and then activate Obeka's ability before my opponent gains control of the Defector so I retain control of it?

A: Nope, that is not possible. Players don't get priority in the middle of a spell or ability resolving. You can activate Obeka's ability before the Defector's ability resolves, or after it resolves, but you can't activate it in the middle of the ability resolving, after you've drawn the cards but before you lose control of the Defector.

Q: Can I play The World Tree in my Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor commander deck?

A: Nope, you cannot. While it would be nice to be able to fix your mana, sine The World Tree has all five colored mana symbols in its rule text (thanks to the last ability), that makes the color identity of The World Tree all five color. If you want to play The World Tree in your commander deck, then your commander's color identity has to include all five colors.

Q: I control Tergrid, God of Fright. I cast Diabolic Edict targeting my opponent, and they sacrifice their commander. Do I get their commander via Tergrid's trigger or can they move it to the command zone first?

A: Assuming they don't want you to have their commander, you won't get it. The choice of moving their commander from the graveyard to the command zone happens when state-based actions are checked after it's sacrificed, before Tergrid's trigger can even go on the stack. If they move it out of the graveyard, when Tergrid's trigger resolves, their commander isn't in the graveyard anymore and can't be returned to the battlefield under your control.

Q: Alice, Julia, and Quentin are playing in a multiplayer game. Both Alice and and Julia control Tergrid, God of Fright. If Quentin sacrifices a creature, who will get the permanent, Alice or Julia?

A: It depends on whose turn it is. We have triggers that are controlled by different players that need to go on the stack, so the active player's triggers will go on the stack first, then we go in turn order, putting triggers on the stack. The last trigger put on the stack will be the first one to resolve.

Assuming the turn order is Alice -> Julia -> Quentin, if the creature is sacrificed on Quentin's turn, then Alice's trigger would go on the stack first (since they're next in turn order), then Julia's trigger, and Julia's trigger would resolve first, and Julia would get the creature. Likewise, if it was sacrificed on Alice's turn, Alice's trigger goes on the stack first, then Julia's trigger, and Julia still gets the creature. Alice would only get the sacrificed creature if it was sacrificed on Julia's turn, since Julia's trigger would go on the stack first (since they're the active player), then Alice's trigger, and Alice's trigger would resolve first.

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


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