Published on 11/21/2005

Phasing and Flanking and Bands oh my!

or, You Put the Right Foot in, You Chop the Left Foot off...

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

*** Thijs, buried in exams, was unable to write Cranial Insertion this week. Eli, having just written one, declined. Dr Tom was too busy causing havoc in ways that we can neither confirm nor deny at this time, but which may or may not be under investigation by PETA. As such, we've asked Moko the Zombified Chimpanzee to write this column since he did such a good job editing last week. We apologize insincerely in advance for any trauma this incident may cause.
- CI Management ***

Yay, I like typing! Hi everybody! I started playing ten years ago when Ice Age came out and I was just a little monkey, so I'm going to answer some questions that mattered back then. [Ed: And they'll matter again soon when Mirage comes to MTGO]

Q: You're really Eli, aren't you?

A: SAVAGE LIES. I am Moko. Eli mentioned me way back in the very first article, and then Thijs invited me to join him in the Netherlands for the second, and Eli flung me across the Atlantic at him. So then Thijs zombified me, and I became intelligent (and developed a craving for brains. Mmmm brains.) Now I usually just sort the incoming mail, since I doubt that Eli, Thijs, Jeff, or Tom would care to answer the question "Does your wife like your dog more than you?" or "Do you want bigger breasts in just 10 days?!" [Ed: I'll cut him off there. For more of Moko's backstory, read through the Cranial Insertion archives!]
[Moko: Hey, don't you cut me off, Gobo.]
[Ed: I'm an editor. That's my job.]
[Moko: *eats your brains*]

*** We apologize for this interruption. The remainder of this article will be edited by this sock puppet, wearing a lock of our editor's hair. Oh my god, is that blood on the sock? Why me? Why?
- CI Management ***

Not so fun anymore.
Q: Will Teferi's Curse and Wormfang Manta give me infinite turns?

A: Newfangled Judgment cards... When I started playing, the answer would have been yes, but they just changed the phasing rules. Phasing used to trigger leaves-play abilities, making it lots of fun, but now it's lame – phasing does not trigger leaves-play anymore. It never triggered comes-into-play abilities, which is what made it so fun.

Fun fact: Ertai's Familiar is a lot stupider now.

Q: What about this combo: Chance Encounter and Frenetic Efreet? I can flip a million coins and win!

A: No you can't. Read the newest wording:

Quote from The Friendly Card:
0: If Frenetic Efreet is in play, flip a coin. If you win the flip, Frenetic Efreet phases out. If you lose the flip, sacrifice Frenetic Efreet.

If Frenetic Efreet already phases out or is sacrificed (ie, after the last ability you put on the stack resolves), the other 999,999 won't do anything when they resolve at all.

Q: What if I use R&D's Secret lair and...

A: *eats your brains*

Q: When do things actually phase in and out?

A: Mostly, at the beginning of your untap step. I just said "at", but this isn't a triggered ability – it just happens. Yes, something happens during the untap step besides untapping!

Some cards may also tell things to phase in our out at other weird times, but those are just cards.

Q: Taniwha confuses me. :(

A: Okay.

Oh, that was a question. It's not that bad, really. Remember, your beginning of turn phase goes untap-upkeep-draw. So on your next turn after you play Taniwha, you phase things in and out right before you actually untap, and Taniwha goes to phaseyworld to find some bananas. When your upkeep happens, Taniwha is gone, so nothing happens there. Your next turn, Taniwha phases in at the start of your untap, and then your lands phase out in your upkeep. Your turn after that, Taniwha phases out at the same time that your lands phase in, and then your lands untap. Repeat until Taniwha dies of banana overdose.

Q: Please help me, what in the name of Yawgmoth does banding DO?

A: If you sacrifice three creatures with banding and a chicken at 11:59pm EST while wearing a feather boa and drinking Zapple, you'll summon Cthulhu.

But banding does something completely different in Magic, since Cthulhu is confined to the "Call of Cthulhu" and "Hecatomb" games.

There are three parts to banding:

1) As you declare attackers, you can declare that a creature with banding has banded with one other attacking creature. If a creature with banding bands with a creature with banding, the second creature with banding can band with a creature without banding to result in a 3-creature band.

2) Each of these creatures can be blocked as normal; a flying creature banded with a ground creature will be blocked if the ground creature is blocked. If any of them are blocked, the blocking creature/s block all of the guys in the band.

3) When assigning combat damage, you decide how creatures deal combat damage if that creature could potentially deal damage to a creature you control with banding. So if 5 1/1s banded together and attacking are blocked by a 5/5, you can drop all five damage on one creature. If five 1/1s, one with banding and four without, block a 5/5 attacker, you can drop all five damage on one 1/1.

If five 1/1s in an attacking band are blocked by five 1/1s, one with banding, your playgroup is on crack. And both players can drop all five damage on one of their 1/1s.

See? Banding is easy.

Q: What about "bands with other legendary creatures"?

A: Cards with those abilities are much like licids. They have been ruled to not exist due to headaches.

"Bands with other" works like banding, except instead of walking up to any random creature saying "I WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND" and starting a band, they can only do that to other creatures with the same "bands with other" ability.

That part about blockers with banding and assigning combat damage that could potentially be dealt to them? With "bands with others", that only applies if at least two of the blockers have the same "bands with others" ability.

Yes. "Bands with other legendary creatures" does not care if the other creature is legendary. It only cares if the other creature also likes to start up bands with legendary creatures. This is a stupid ability and we shall speak no more of it.

Q: If my Benalish Hero blocks a Darksteel Colossus, do I have to assign 10 trample damage to me?

A: Only if you're a masochist. You get to make all combat damage assignments for the Colossus since it's blocked by your creature with banding. The rules for trample say that you must assign lethal damage – one – to the Hero, but then you can assign the rest divided any way you choose between your blocker and you. So let that Colossus pound the Hero into the ground 11 times!

Q: What if the Benalish Hero blocks a Thorn Elemental? Can't my opponent just say "I activate Thorn Elemental's damage-to-you ability?"

A: No, because the ability is not activated; it's just a static ability that changes how the combat damage assignment works. And hey, look at that, you make all choices for combat damage assignment! So if you somehow give a Darksteel Colossus banding, it can join up with a Thorn Elemental and squish a Benalish Hero for 18 damage!

Benalish Hero: Why do you hate me? :(

Q: If I use a Nature's Blessing to give a creature banding twice, can it band with two other creatures?

Quote from Comprehensive Rules:
502.10i Multiple instances of banding on the same creature are redundant.

Quote from
Needlessly wordy or repetitive in expression

Quote from Comprehensive Rules:
502.10i Multiple instances of banding on the same creature are redundant.

*** This section paid for by The Department of Redundancy Department ***

Q: I attack with a War Elephant banded with a Fog of Gnats. Before declaring blockers, my opponent uses Tolaria to take away banding. What happens?

A: I want to know how that situation comes up. Not that your opponent is playing Tolaria, although mind you, that is pretty freaky. How does a war elephant band with a fog of gnats? "Hey guys, want to go to the bar after work?" "Check out this steaming pile of dung I just dropped"? ANYWAY.

It doesn't work.

Tolaria can only remove banding during his upkeep. You win! But assuming it did, because this is an interesting question.

Once the band is made, nothing shall break it. Except death, really. If they die, they're not in the band anymore. "Till death do us part" and all that. So the giant elephant and his miniscule gnat buddies are together till death (or the end of combat), much like an old married couple (who eventually kill each other with their false teeth). So both of the creatures, banded thus, can be blocked by one lowly Squirrel token. (Sweet god, this game has completely stopped making sense.)

However, since the elephant no longer has banding, combat damage will be assigned as normal.

Q: Will a 1/1 with flanking kill a 1/1 with bushido 1?

A: Probably, but it's going to die, too. The 1/1 with bushido will live long enough to smack down the flanking guy.

Flanking and bushido are both triggered abilities. Flanking only matters when your creature with flanking is attacking, so it must be your turn. So your flanking trigger goes on the stack, with a bushido trigger on top of it. So the 1/1 goes up to 2/2, and then back down to 1/1. Then the two 1/1s slaughter each other with their false teeth of DOOM.

Q: If my Old Fogey is blocked by seven 1/1 creatures, how do I choose which one dies from the flanking?

A: *hugs Old Fogey*

They aaaaall die. Flanking will hit every blocker without flanking, not just one. It triggers whenever the creature becomes blocked by a creature, not just when it becomes blocked – so each creature without flanking will trigger it once for many exploding critters.

Q: What exactly is a Homarid, anyway?

A: Damned if I know, but they're tasty.

Q: Since you can fail to find a card when you search, can I find zero cards when I use Jester's Mask?

A: No. You're mean. You can only fail to find cards when you're searching for a specific type of card, like "four cards with different names", "basic land card", or "creature card". Whenever you just need to find a certain number of cards, you can – unless, of course, that many cards don't exist.

So I guess that if your opponent had zero cards in his hand, you'd have to search for zero cards.

Jaya hates it when you pick your nose.
Q: Can I play Burnout targeting any random instant just to draw a card?

A: Yes, you can. The only targeting restriction on Burnout is "instant spell". It just won't do any countering if the spell isn't blue. But it will set up a delayed trigger, whether or not it counters anything.

Okay, my paws are getting tired. I'll sign off here – be sure to check in next week when Thijs talks about something that probably doesn't involve bananas.

-Moko the Zombie Chimpanzee

About the Author:
Moko was born in Tanzania, and died in a tragic accident involving a catapult while being transported from Eli Shiffrin to Thijs van Ommen between the first two Cranial Insertion articles. Subsequently zombified, he helps sort their mail and occasionally answers questions. His pastimes include bananas and brains. Mmm brains.


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