Published on 04/26/2021

Class is Back in Session

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If you need to repeat this class,
Naban will be your teacher.
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to this week's class of Cranial Insertion! I'm Professor Long, your Dean of Rules, here to go through some common (and less common) interactions you may run across during your time here on Strixhaven. Please have your quills at attention and stop trying to move the clock ahead - I assure you, this is all required information and will be on your final. And the last thing I want is for some of you to be forced to repeat this class.

And we're crunched for time today, so we won't have any time for questions at the end. However, we are available after hours for any questions you may have. If you have a short question, you can send it to us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and you can send longer questions to us at .

Q: If I cast Cram Session with an empty hand, can I choose to discard a card to draw a card?

A: If you want to draw, you have to discard. Based on the reminder text, you might think that you can choose the "discard a card to draw a card" option even if you have no cards in your hand. But with the full rules, in order to draw a card, you must discard a card from your hand, so you can't get a free draw because you must discard a card to draw a card.

Q: My opponent controls an Owlin Shieldmage. If I cast Heated Debate targeting the Shieldmage, do I have to worry about the ward trigger?

A: You don't have to worry at all. When the ward trigger resolves, you can pay 3 life. If you don't, then your spell would normally be countered. However, the Debate can't be countered, so if you don't pay the life, the Ward will fail to counter the Debate. A spell that can't be countered is the perfect counter to something with ward, since you don't have to worry about paying the ward tax for your spell.

Q: I attack with a 2/2 Blood Researcher and a Leech Fanatic. My opponent blocks the Researcher with two Pest tokens. Will my Researcher get the +1/+1 counter in time, or will it die?

A: Your Researcher will die. All combat damage is dealt at the same time, so the Researcher deals and receives its damage at the same time the Fanatic is dealing its damage (and you gain life). That triggers the Researcher's ability, but before we can put that trigger on the stack, we need to check state-based actions. The Researcher is a 2/2 with two damage marked on it, so the Researcher will die, before it gets the +1/+1 counter from its triggered ability.

Q: My opponent controls eight lands and a Scurrid Colony. If I Shock the Colony, then Stone Rain one of their lands, will their Colony die?

A: Yep, it's dead. The Colony only gets +2/+2 as long as they control eight or more lands. If they drop from eight lands to seven lands, the Colony loses the bonus. And damage remains marked on the creature until the end of the turn. In this case, the Colony goes from a 4/4 with 2 damage marked on it to a 2/2 with 2 damage marked on it, and the Colony will die.

Q: How exactly does Crackle with Power work?

A: The important thing to note with Crackle with Power is that whatever value you pick for X will the same wherever X appears in the mana cost and the rules text. For example, if X is equal to 1, then you'll end up paying to cast it, and you'll deal 5 damage (five times one is five) to one target. For another example, if X is equal to 3, then you'll end up paying to cast it, and you'll deal 15 damage (five times three is 15) to up to three targets. So if you want to deal more damage to more targets, then you need to pick a larger X (but also need to pay more mana to cast Crackle with Power).

Q: Ok, so let's say I cast Crackle with Power with X=3. Can I choose my opponent as all three targets to deal them 45 damage?

A: No you cannot. Since it doesn't use the word 'target' multiple times, you have to choose up to three different targets. You can't target the same creature, player, or planeswalker multiple times. You can choose your opponent as one of the three targets for Crackle with Power, but you can't choose a single opponent as all three targets.

This class needs a little chaos.

Q: My opponent controls a Sparring Regimen and a 2/2 creature. I'm holding an Expel. Do I get a chance to Expel my opponent's 2/2 when it attacks, or does it immediately untap when it attacks?

A: You're able to Expel their 2/2 here. The Regimen has a normal triggered ability that uses the stack. The creature won't untap until the triggered ability resolves, so there's a short time where your opponent's creature is tapped and you can Expel it before the trigger resolves and untaps the creature.

Q: I control an Eager First-Year and the storm count is currently four. I cast Grapeshot. How many magecraft triggers do I get?

A: You'll get a total of five triggers. You get one from casting the original Grapeshot. When the storm trigger resolves, you get four more copies of Grapeshot. Even though they're all being created at the same time, magecraft will care about each individual copy, so the First-Year's ability will trigger four more times, for a total of five magecraft triggers from the Grapeshot and its storm trigger.

Q: What happens if I cast Test of Talents targeting my opponent's Heated Debate? Do I still get to search and exile their other Heated Debates?

A: Yep, you will. Test of Talent doesn't care if it can't counter the spell. Even though the Debate can't be countered, you'll still be able to search your opponent's library, hand, and graveyard for other copies of the Debate and exile them. But you can't exile the one that's on the stack, since that's not a zone you're allowed to search, so while their other copies will end up exiled, the original Debate will still resolve.

Q: My opponent casts Battle Display targeting an artifact I control. I counter it with Test of Talents. Do I get to search my opponent's library and get rid of my opponent's Embereth Shieldbreakers?

A: You're not going to find anything. Test of Talent cares about the name of the spell on the stack, not the name of the card in the graveyard. The name of the spell on the stack was "Battle Display", but with adventure, unless the card is on the stack and you're casting it via adventure, it only has the characteristics of the creature, not the instant or sorcery. There's no cards named "Battle Display" in the hand, graveyard, or library, so while you can search, you won't be able to exile anything.

Q: I control Garruk's Uprising. If cast Fractal Summoning with X=5, will the Uprising trigger?

A: It will not trigger. When making fractals, the tokens are not entering the battlefield with +1/+1 counters on them. The tokens are being created, then getting the +1/+1 counters. Even though the token will end up as a 5/5 by the time the Summoning is done resolving, when the Uprising is checking to see if it should trigger immediately afte the token enters, the fractal token is a 0/0, so the Uprising won't trigger.

Q: If I have an Isochron Scepter with a Study Break imprinted on it, do I get two magecraft triggers each time I activate the Scepter?

A: You'll only get one magecraft trigger. Magecraft cares if you're casting or copying a spell. With the Scepter, you're not creating a copy of a spell - you're creating a copy of a card, and then you can cast the cop. Magecraft won't trigger off of the copy of the Break being created, but it will trigger if you cast the copy of the Break, so you'll only get one magecraft trigger, not two.

Huh. She says she's new around here,
but I swear I've seen her before...

Q: If I have Professor Onyx in play, can I cast and repeatedly copy Chain of Smog targeting myself and drain my opponents with her magecraft trigger?

A: Yep, that's a legal play. When the Chain of Smog resolves, the targeted player discards, then they can choose to copy the Chain. There's no additional cost or anything else like that besides the desire to copy it, so you can cast the Chain targeting yourself, then, when it resolves, choose to make another copy of the Chain (and get another magecraft trigger from Liliana). This works even once you run out of cards in hand, so unless your opponent can remove Professor Onyx or prevent your Chain of Smog from resolving, you can repeat as much as you want until your opponents are at 0 life.

Q: My opponent just drew for the turn and revealed Devastation Tide. Can I respond to the miracle trigger by using Aether Vial to put an Elite Spellbinder into play and exile the Tide from their hand?

A: Yes, you can do that. They can't cast the Tide for its miracle cost until the miracle trigger resolves. You can respond to the miracle trigger by putting the Spellbinder into play and choosing to exile the Tide with its trigger. When the miracle trigger resolves, they can't cast the Tide since it's no longer in their hand, and if they every do want to cast the Tide that was exiled, they'll have to pay the Spellbinder tax and pay .

Q: I control an Osgir, the Reconstructor and I have an Ugin's Nexus in my graveyard. If I exile the Nexus to activate Osgir's last ability, what happens?

A: When Osgir's ability resolves, you make two copies of Ugin's Nexus. Then, we check state-based actions, and you choose one of the Nexus to keep and the other will go to the graveyard thanks to the legendary rule. But instead of going to the graveyard, that Nexus is exiled instead and you get an extra turn. However, you have one slight problem - there's still one Ugin's Nexus in play, and that Nexus will prevent you from taking the extra turn from the other Nexus. Unless you can get rid of the other Nexus before you would take your extra turn, the surviving Nexus will stop you from taking your extra turn (which, luckily, Osgir's first activated ability will let you sacrifice the surviving Nexus).

Q: I'm in a game of two-headed giant, and my teammate controls Dina, Soul Steeper. If I cast Cram Session, will that cause my teammate's Dina to trigger?

A: Nope, your teammate's Dina will not trigger. In order for Dina to trigger, Dina's controller has to gain the life. While you are their teammate, and you gaining life will cause your team's life total to go up, that doesn't count as your teammate gaining life, so if you wanted Dina to trigger here, your teammate would have to cast Cram Session, not you.

Q: I control a Strixhaven Stadium with seven counters on it. I attack three of my opponents and hit each of them with one creature. Will that cause all three of my opponents to lose the game or just one of them?

A: Only one opponent will lose the game. Since three of your creatures dealt combat damage to an opponent, the Stadium will trigger three times. The trigger resolve one at a time, not all at once, and only when the trigger that adds the 10th counter resolves will that damaged player lose the game. It won't affect other opponents who were also damaged that combat, but the Stadium didn't have 10 counters on it when that trigger resolved. You get to choose the order the triggers are put on the stack and which of your opponents will lose the game, but the other two will not lose the game because of the Stadium this combat.

Q: I have a Laelia, the Blade Reforged in play, and I cast a card with flashback (like Geistflame) from my graveyard, will I get a Laelia trigger?

A: You do not get a trigger. Laelia only triggers if the card is exiled from your library or graveyard. While a card cast via flashback will eventually make its way into exile, it's going to exile from the stack, not your graveyard. Since it's exiled from the stack, Laelia won't care about it and Laelia will not trigger.

Q: My commander is Extus, Oriq Overlord. If I decide to cast the back side (Awaken the Blood Avatar), will that cause the Skyfire Phoenix that's in my graveyard to trigger and return to the battlefield?

A: It will! Extus is your commander, no matter which face you're casting. If you decide to cast Awaken the Blood Avatar, it counts as casting your commander, so the Phoenix's ability will trigger and it will return to the battlefield.

Q: How does a card with learn work in commander?

A: Not as well as other formats. In commander, there's no outside the game for lesson to pull from, so you won't be able to pull a lesson from outside the game. You can still choose to discard a card to draw a card, or do nothing, but unless you discuss it with your play group ahead of time and decide to handle things differently, you won't be able to grab lesson cards when you learn.

That's it for this week. We'll see you again next week!


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