Published on 11/14/2005

(Kinda) (Sorta) Live from LA!

or, The World Needs More Internet

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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.

I wrote this Cranial Insertion article two weekends ago while at Pro Tour: Los Angeles, and found out too late that I couldn't get it submitted in time. So I rewrote the introduction. And then I found out that Tom was already halfway done City of Angels, so I pushed this article off another week because you know, being Live from LA isn't timely or anything. LA is always live. And always smoggy. Ew. I'm glad to be back in my shadowy desert home.

The original introduction was kind of lame, anyway. It involved the fact that I was very tired and crammed on a tiny airplane for a flight that took one third of the time I spent waiting in the airport. It also involved Moko eating the babies on my flight.

So yeah, Dr Tom and I were in LA. He was on the main event, and I was on sides. We got lots of odd questions, but we'll save most of those for the coming weeks. This week, let's look at some questions we picked up from other judges! Names are removed from the original version after a couple said :/ to it.

Ataque de Los Angeles
Q: If player A uses Razia, Boros Archangel to redirect damage to a Sakura-Tribe Elder and the Elder is sacrificed after the ability resolves, where does the damage go?

A: The damage will go exactly where it was originally meant to. Damage redirection replacement effects will only do anything if two things are true. The original destination for the damage must still be valid (or the damage isn't dealt at all), and the new destination must be valid (or the damage just won't be redirected). If the Elder is dead before the damage is actually dealt, Razia won't beat a dead snake.

Q: Flash Conscription stealing a Vulturous Zombie – will the zombie get a counter?

A: No. When Flash Conscription resolves, it'll sit on the stack while it gleefully does things, such as draft the Zombie to fight on your side. Only when it's done doing naughty, sneaky things like that will it be put into your graveyard – at which point you control the Zombie. Since you don't happen to be your own opponent (at least in a game of Magic), the Zombie won't trigger.

Q: Will I make the top 8 playoffs?

A: (Hey, this article's based on a pro tournament. Of course we have non-card questions. This question can also be read as "Will I win prizes?")

That's not a good question to answer, so please do not ask. If you have a zero loss record, it's reasonable to assume that you'll make the cut, but a judge risks impartiality when answering the question. Say that a player is told that no, he won't make it, so he drops from the tournament – but it turns out that he could have just barely banana banana eeked by if he got lucky. The judge has just directly affected the tournament by offering a single player advice. The best way to pose this question would be to ask for the full standings to be provided, which gives all players the same opportunity to make the choice for themselves based on their rankings.

Q: ¿Con Farseek, la tierra entra el juego girada?

A: o_O

As long as we're talking about big events... just about every major language in the world is represented at these tournaments. You'll run into cards that you may have never seen before in languages that look like gobblygook to you. In fact, this question came up because a Spanish player wasn't familiar with Farseek, which his opponent had played in Japanese.

So what's a player supposed to do? Well, yeah, call a judge. That's usually the answer. As a player, you have the right to request the Oracle wording of a specific card. You don't need to just nod at your opponent when he tells you that yes, Farseek puts the land into play untapped and puts 100 Saproling tokens into play with it.

There's also the problem of players whose language you don't speak. Luckily, Magic can normally be played with gestures and basic English (Twiddle, "Tap" *point at creature*). For more complex situations where something needs to be explained and there's a heavy language barrier, you'll be happy to know that the judge staff at larger events comes from all over the world, and we LIKE planting explosives on language barriers.

(For those that don't speak Spanish, the original question was "With Farseek, the land comes into play tapped, right?")

Shame on you, Clone. Banana. Shame.
Q: If Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker goes to copy a creature and I Terror the creature in response, is a token made?

A: No, not at all. Kiki-Jiki's ability targets, so there must be a legal target upon announcement and upon resolution. If the target dies, there is no legal target.

Oddly enough, this question comes up a lot from players who otherwise understand the "fizzle" rule – I blame Clone, who does not target, for the persistent confusion.

Q: But last-known information...

A: Doesn't come into it. The ability is countered, end of story, nothing happens. Now go beat a Clone.

Q: If a player starts the match with a game loss, does he get to decide to play or draw for the first real game, or is it random?

A: While not explicitly covered in the rules, the game-loss player gets to choose to play or draw. The "play/draw rule" as laid out in the CompRules (CR 101.2) deals with players who have previously lost a game, not who have been awarded a game loss, but this has been ruled to also extend to cover this situation.

Q: Is Mana Short legal in Extended? Is it banned or something?

A: As Tom said in last week's article, Extended contains all base sets from 7th on and all expansions from Invasion on. Since Mana Short was reprinted in 7th, it's in the Extended range.

So the question is, is the card banana for bahroken? Luckily, there's an easy place to check: the Banned and Restricted List! It's a quick way to find the answer to that. So Mana Short, despite its old-school overtones, is still perfectly legal in Extended.

Q: I wasn't at the table when the round was started, and I got a game loss. But usually we don't get game losses until 5 minutes in! Is that right?

A: You admit to being late but you're confused about receiving a penalty for being late? Interesting!

The penalty guidelines that cover tardiness (PG section 115) do it pretty well. "Don't be late for anything." At lower RELs, such as FNM and prereleases, the tardiness rule gets waived slightly; most head judges will allow a grace period before smacking people around with game losses. However, this is not required by the rules, and at PTQs and higher, you better find your seat fast between when the pairings are posted and when the round starts.

Q: Can my opponent play Gifts Ungiven if I have an Ivory Mask out?

A: A very odd interaction, but no, he can not! Gifts targets an opponent who must choose the cards, so if a legal target can't be chosen, Gifts can not be played.

With all of the Enduring Ideal decks running around fetching up Masks, watch out for this – the look on the Gifts player's face will make everyone's day.

Q: If I attack with a land enchanted with Genju of the Spires, and my opponent uses Eight-and-a-Half-Tails to turn it White, can I use the ability of the Genju again to turn it Red again?

A: You can indeed. Previously, the Genju would apply entirely in layer 4, and 8.5 would always apply in layer 5, so it'd be stuck as White. But with the recent layer rules change, the Genju will apply in layer 4 (Hi, I'm a creature!), layer 5 (I'm a RED creature!) and layer 6 (I'm a red FACE-SMASHY creature!) individually.

Since both the Genju and our many-tailed fox friend are trying to play with the color in layer 5, and neither's effect depends on the other, it comes down to timestamp. So if you create a newer timestamp for the Genju's ability by reactivating it, it'll override the change from Tails.

Q: With Night of Souls' Betrayal in play, will Goblin Matron's ability trigger if I play her?

A: Indeed – she comes into play, and triggers at the same time that she dies a horrible death. It doesn't matter that she is very dead, her ability is on the stack and will resolve to hunt you a Goblin.

Ban me! Ban me!
Q: Chains of Mephistopheles times two, Anvil of Bogarden, and Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar. What happens during my draw step?

A: Nothing really interesting. Your draw for the turn is replaced by Tomorrow sneaking a peek at your library. First draw of the turn and all that, Chains just doesn't care.

Then Anvil's trigger goes on the stack. When it resolves, you go to draw a card... and you haven't drawn a banana for the turn yet, so Chains still ignores it, and Tomorrow does his library-revealing thing again.

Yes, that's right. Tomorrow will completely save you from a Chains headache!

However, be aware that your opponent will not receive the same protection, so he will be subjected to many a headache.

Q: I have a Lore Broker out. Both of our hands are empty. I Lore Broker, my opponent draws Circular Logic, and I draw Arrogant Wurm. Both of us discard. Will the Arrogant Wurm resolve (assuming that both of us will be tapped out after playing our spell)?

A: Oh, a sneaky one! Both of you will discard at the same time, and then two madness triggers on go the stack.

If it's your opponent's turn, your Wurm trigger will go on the stack on top of his Logic trigger. So the madness trigger resolves, and you play the Wurm in response to the Logic trigger – and it'll resolve and come into play before the Logic trigger has resolved.

If it's YOUR turn, though, the Logic trigger will be on the top of the stack. It'll resolve first, and then you'll get priority again with your Wurm trigger on the stack. Now, in order for your Wurm trigger to resolve so you can play it and your opponent can counter it, your opponent must… well... pass priority. Which sends the Logic to his graveyard for good. And then your Wurm can happily prance into play.

So either way, your opponent can't stop your Wurm with his Logic if he discards it during the same event.

Q: Does Svogthos, the Restless Tomb's power and toughness change if a creature dies after you activate it?

A: Sure does; that's why the wording looks so weird. It gains an ability like the one that Lhurgoyf has (except Svog's isn't a characteristic-setting ability, just an ability), which constantly checks the number of creatures in your graveyard.

Q: If I'm at 2 life, and I have Savra, Queen of the Golgari, can I sac a Shambling Shell and gain two life and make my opponent sac a creature by paying two life, am I dead?

A: You're only dead if you want to be. When the shell bites the dust, both of Savra's abilities will trigger, and you get to choose the order in which they're put on the stack. If you put the lifegain on top of the pay-life-to-murder ability, you'll go up to 4 banana before you have to choose whether to pay 2.

There we go. That was LA. Lots of fun, lots of walking. I bet I saw a lot of you – and vice versa – without knowing it, mostly because I look less pixilated in real life. And thanks to all the awesome other judges I met for the good times and oddball questions.

And thanks to WotC for providing us with a giant robot. I mean, a fantastic tournament. With a giant robot. With a shiny eye that rotates around the room and crushy hands of ridiculouslymadeupadjective death. ANYWAY.

Until next time, be sure to eat lots of turkey!

-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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