Published on 10/17/2005

Guess the Theme Week

or, Guess the Obvious Theme Week

Cranial Translation
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Note: This article is over two years old. Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes. Proceed with caution.

Welcome back to Cranial Insertion, where men are men, women are women, and bunnies get stuffed into your head. In my case, unfortunately, the bunnies have leaked out and multiplied in my sinuses, so you had to deal with Tom last week. However, Tom did well, so I think we'll keep him around.

Please do not ask if we have a Doctor in the house.

We have also confirmed that I'll be judging side events at the Pro Tour: Los Angeles at the end of October. Try to find me to get your name mentioned in the article! I'll be the one wearing the judge shirt.

But is it coming out or getting flushed?
Q: If I attack with Sewerdreg in a 2HG game and one of the opponents on the other team has a Swamp, can the other opponent's creatures block the dreg?

A: Nope, the Sewerdreg is unstoppable!

Quote from CompRules:
502.6b Landwalk and snow-covered landwalk are evasion abilities. A creature with landwalk is unblockable as long as the defending player controls at least one land with the specified subtype and/or supertype.

It doesn't say that creatures can't block your creature if their controller controls a land of the specified type, but that your creature can't be blocked period. Since one of the defending players controls a Swamp, swampwalkers get through just fine.

Q: Does Blazing Archon in 2HG stop anyone from attacking us?

A: It sure does. That's mean.

Quote from CompRules:
606.7b. As the declare attackers step begins, the active team declares attackers. If a creature is unable to attack one of the defending players, that creature can't attack the defending team. The active team has one combined attack, and that set of attacking creatures must be legal as a whole.

But that does make up for the last 8 turns you've been slapped around by a Graceful Antelope.

Q: In a 2HG game, will Breath of Fury untap my teammate's creatures, too?

A: Let's see, BoF says "untap all creatures you control"... sure looks like only yours will untap. While many things apply to both players as if they were one, "you" is still only you.

Do note, though, that your teammate can attack during the additional combat phase if he has creatures untapped and ready to go.

Q: If I play Moonlight Bargain in a 2HG game, can my teammate help me choose what to do for each card?

A: Sure - table talk is always okay, and happens outside of in-game timing ("Terror your creature." "In response, we insult your mother.") At no time are you required to make a decision without consulting your teammate, although doing so for every decision will likely push the game into overtime.

Q: For Pain's Reward, can I bid zero, and then let my teammate bid zero?

A: What does "top the high bid" mean in poker? You can't just call the bid, you have to beat it with a higher number. The bidding can quickly spiral out of control in a 2HG game with all that life just lying around...

Q: I have Searing Meditation in front of me in a 2HG game, and my teammate Healing Salves himself. Since my life total just went up, I gained life and can burn something, right?

A: Indeedy. The team's life total went up, so you count as having gained life. Even though you didn't specifically gain from Healing Salve, you did gain.

Now, the real question is: Why didn't he just target YOU with the Healing Salve and spare everyone the trouble?

Q: If I play Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant when my team is at 40 life, does he flip right away?

A: Your team may be at 40, but you are only at 20. Remember, in 2HG your life total is equal to the team life total divided by the number of players on the team rounded up – so assuming a 2-person team, when the team is at 40 or 39, your life total is 20 as far as the game is concerned. To flip Rune-Tail, you'll have to get the team up to 59 or 60 life. I suggest Serra Avatar with a few Loxodon Warhammers.

Q: What would Seizan, Perverter of Truth do in a 2HG game?

A: That's a very good question. And the answer is...

There is no answer.

For now, at least.

The Comprehensive Rules currently fails to deal with this situation. The answer is technically up to the head judge. Here are the three common answers:

1) If something asks "Whose upkeep/end of turn/attack phase/etc is it?" the game answers "Players A and B" – so both A and B would each lose two life (4 life down for the team) and each would draw two cards.

2) If something asks "Whose upkeep/end of turn/attack phase/etc is it?" the game answers "Players A and B" – and team AB chooses which one of those two players is affected. So only one would lose two life (only 2 life down for the team) and that player would draw two cards.

3) The scary one. If an ability triggers "At the beginning of each player's X", the ability triggers once for each player whose X is starting. This is contradictory to the original ruling that it would only trigger once (making Verdant Force much saner).

And, the winner is...

#3! The rulings team has reversed their original ruling. Anything that triggers on a phase or step starting will now trigger once for each player whose phase/step is starting at the same time. So yes, Verdant Force is a nastier monkey for now.

This is an Official ruling from the Wizards NetRep, and should be used in all cases, but since it is not part of the comprehensive rules yet, the head judge may override it with 1 or 2 for now.

Slaver for two, nonsmoking.
Q: If I control one opponent in a 2HG game with Mindslaver, can I make him attack his teammate?

A: If you slaver player Y, player Z will still be his teammate – you can't make Y attack him. In fact, you also control Z! You (and your teammate if you want to be really mean about it) get to make all the choices for team YZ! OH THE POWER! MWAHAHAHA!

Ahem. Moving on.

Q: My teammate in a 2HG game has to leave. Can someone else jump in for him for the rest of the tournament?

A: If it's a sanctioned tournament, no. The players on each team must stay the same for the duration of the tournament, so your entire team would have to leave.

Q: Why is there only one game per match for 2HG? It's fun; I want to play more!

A: If your team can finish more than one game in 50 minutes, you have rather fast decks there. 2HG games very often push the time limit to the max. As much fun as 2HG is, 4-round tournaments shouldn't take 12 hours to finish. That would make the judges – and the players – very, very sad.

And you don't want to see the judges cry, do you?

Q: Can I draw my card for the turn before my teammate decides whether or not he wants to use a dredge ability?

A: Nope, when the draw step begins, both players draw a card right away. You have to move at the same time as your teammate – you both move to draw, but instead you may dredge. You have to make the choice before he actually does draw.

Q: Will the rules handle it if we decide to play a Three-Headed Giant game? Or Four-Headed Giant?

A: Even a Five-Headed Giant game! Check out the last rule under the 2HG rules:

Quote from CompRules:
606.10. The Two-Headed Giant variant can also be played with equally sized teams of more than two players. Each team's starting life total is equal to 20 times the number of players on the team. (These variants are unofficially called Three-Headed Giant, Four-Headed Giant, and so on.)

This also means that your life total is equal to the team's life divided by the number of players on the team, and any answer referring to "both" players should be "all" players.

For the sake of simplicity, we'll always assume two players on a team, although the answer can be expanded to include any number.

Q: Can I play with two decks against two people, each with one, for 2HG?

A: That would be a multiple-personality-disorder giant, not a two-headed giant. While it sounds like fun for a casual game, you can't do that for a sanctioned tournament. Each team must have the same number of players, and each player must have a unique DCI number.

Q: Okay, so what if I sign up for a second DCI number? Then I'd be two players!

A: Then you'd be suspended. Just having two DCI numbers is bad enough; knowingly obtaining a second number to sneak around tournament rules is very, very bad.

There is no way to get around the fact that you need a different player for each head.

Q: If I drop a Karona, False God in a 2HG game, who gets her each turn? This actually matters because one opponent has Brawn in his deck.

A: Well, you're in luck! At the beginning of each team's upkeep, Karona triggers once for each player. But since you control her, you get to choose the order of those abilities. Just put the Brawn-player's trigger on the stack first, and then his teammate's, and Karona will end up with the teammate.

He can do the same thing to pass Karona to your teammate instead of to you, but you can build around that problem.

And that concludes this week's article. Can you guess the topic? I hope it wasn't too obvious. Join us next week when Thijs presents an all-encompassing look at the nefarious and infamous... state-based effects!

Until next time, see you all in LA!

-Eli Shiffrin, L2 DCI Judge, Tucson, AZ

About the Author:
Eli Shiffrin is currently in Lowell, Massachusetts and discovering how dense the east coast MTG community is. Legend has it that the Comprehensive Rules are inscribed on the folds of his brain.


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