Published on 12/12/2005

Fire Good!

or, Santa Bad!

Cranial Translation
[No translations yet]

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

Hello boys and girls! It's Cranial Insertion time again – in case you haven't noticed the new "Articles" archive, click the link right there for an easy-to-browse archive of all of our old articles.

Here in bright, sunny, balmy Tucson, the desert city an hour north of the Mexican border and a mere 3 hours east of the glittering Gulf of California, IT'S BELOW FREEZING. OMGWTFMONKEYOYO. Seeing that Hell has apparently frozen over, that can only mean one thing: Our readership has exceeded 20 members. You love us! You really love us! Or at least Moko!

In honor of the fact that the standing water in Tucson, were there any standing water in Tucson, would be frozen solid, we're going to play with fire this week.

Q: How exactly does the Izzet ability "CENSORED" work?

A: Damned if I know. What does it say on the card?

Oh, wait, that's right. Guildpact isn't out yet.

Public service announcement, folks: Do NOT ask the Rumour Mill, your sister's dog, or Leecifer about Guildpact cards until after the FAQ has been released on the Wednesday of the prerelease.

On the other hand, please DO ask Cranial Insertion – we won't answer you right away, but we'll stockpile your questions for the Guildpact Release article.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Q: Will Pyroclasm kill a creature with protection from Red since it doesn't target?

A: Not normally, no. Protection stops five things: Damage, Enchanting, Equipping, Blocking, and Targeting. Pyroclasm doesn't target, enchant, equip, or block, but it does damage! And protection will prevent that damage unless you do something sneaky like Flaring Pain.

Q: When an epic copy of Undying Flames goes on the stack, when do I choose the target? It's worded like I choose after revealing the card.

A: Despite the order of the words, you must choose the target as the copy goes on the stack (and as you play the spell for the first time). Sometimes word order gets a little weird to make way for normal English usage, so you need to read the card through entirely instead of just doing everything on it bit by bit.

Q: I have Sneak Attack in play, which I use to drop a Crater Hellion. Then I put in Worldgorger Dragon with the Sneak Attack, removing from the game all the permanents I control. At the end of the turn, when my Worldgorger Dragon is sacrificed because of the Sneak Attack, all the permanents removed by the Worldgorger Dragon come back into play. Is the Crater Hellion sacrificed too at the end of turn because it was originally put into play with the Sneak Attack, or has it lost memory of this event?

A: The Hellion survives for all sorts of reasons. When the end-of-turn step starts, the Sneak Attack delayed triggers both go on the stack in any order; say that you put the Hellion's delayed trigger on first. It resolves, and says "Um, where did the Hellion go? Screw this, I'm going to go have a drink" and resolves doing nothing. Then the Dragon's trigger resolves and eats him up.

Now the Dragon's leaves-play triggered ability goes on the stack and eventually resolves after your opponent makes ugly faces at it. The Hellion comes back, and not only does it not remember ever being Sneaked in, but the Sneak Attack has no clue that it ever put it into play – as far as it's concerned, the Hellion that it put into play is forever gone.

You end up keeping the Hellion. But can you pay the echo cost so you can keep on keeping the Hellion?

Q: When do I decide how to split the damage for Liquid Fire?

A: That would happen in 409.1e:

Quote from CompRules:
409.1e If the spell or ability affects several targets in different ways, the player announces how it will affect each target. If the spell or ability requires the player to divide or distribute an effect (such as damage or counters) among one or more targets, or any number of untargeted objects or players, the player announces the division. Each of these targets, objects, or players must receive at least one of whatever is being divided.

Now, that might make a little more sense with some context. Section 409.1 details the steps taken to play a spell:

1: Announce the spell and put it on the stack
2: Select modes, splice, declare variables, select alternative or additional costs
3: Targets! (parts c and d both cover this)
4: Announce divisions and how each target is affected (if applicable)
5: Determine total cost
6: Play mana abilities
7: Pay!
8: You have played your spell. Yay.

I shall not champion the ASTADPPY acronym here. It sucks. Feel free to suggest a viable acronym to use, though, and we'll use it in a future column and mention your name in connection to what may become an internet fad!

Wait, cold! Snow! AUGH!
Q: What happens if my opponent casts Foxfire on his creature with a Jitte after damage has already been dealt? Does he rewind and take the counters off?

A: Rewinding is sad and unhappy and makes baby Cthulhu cry. :( Luckily there's no reason to do so here. Foxfire won't make the player go back and undo anything that's already been done – it just sets up a prevention shield that'll stop all future combat damage this turn coming or going from the creature. So he actually made a good play: his creature is now untapped, holding a powered-up Jitte, and he gets a card on your turn!

Q: I was flipping through my brother's collection and saw the Portal 3 card Burning of Xinye. I looked up the Oracle text, and it's exactly the same as Wildfire. So can I play it in a Standard deck?

A: Well, no. They're different cards.

The only difference is the name, but sadly, that one difference means it all – card legality is based on the name, after all, not what it does. No burning Xinye for you.

Q: Jiwari, the Earth Aflame isn't a creature when I channel him, so will he kill a Beloved Chaplain?

A: Even Jiwari loves the Chaplain. (Note the word order and do not reverse it.) While it is true that a channeled Jiwari is not a creature, it is a creature card, which is all it takes to fall under the protection rules.

Q: Is mana burn loss of life, or damage? If it's damage, is it the same color as the mana that causes the burn, so my Story Circle can stop it?

A: Your sneaky trick shall not work, for mana burn is loss of life!

Q: If I Singe a Llanowar Elf, will it trigger Bereavement?

A: Not at all. It takes one damage and becomes black before state-based effects are checked, which cart the poor Elf off to the grave. He doesn't die in the middle of the spell while he's still green; at that point, he's just mortally wounded.

Q: I played Boiling Blood on his Helldozer, so he tapped it to blow up a land. Can he do that? Boiling Blood says that it has to attack if able.

A: While your reasoning makes sense going by English language logic, that's not how the rules work. As far as the rules care, Boiling Blood won't affect any choices made outside of the Declare Attacker step. All that it'll do is force the creature to attack during the declaration of attackers if it is untapped, it has been under its controller's control since the start of his turn, and no other effects prohibit it from attacking. If he's tapped the Dozer for something else, it just won't attack.

Q: What would happen if my opponent spontaneously combusted?

A: Marshmallows.

Though in the event of a less-silly emergency, the tournament very likely goes on hold, depending on a lot of things. Worlds? There are enough officials to keep it flowing smoothly. A PTQ? It'd likely go on hold for a little while. For a FNM or ordinary tournament, it'll be canceled nine out of ten times if the situation is serious, since a lot of the players will know each other and be rather freaked out.

For a larger event like a GPT or PTQ, postponing the event isn't a very happy option, and that'd be reserved for a truly catastrophic accident. After the situation had been dealt with, the tournament would continue with a slightly less gleeful atmosphere.

All in all, it'd come down to who's running it and how bad the problem is, and as much as us judgely folk would like to have a plan for this sort of thing, plans for a game tend to hold little weight in the face of a life-shattering mess. There's no official policy, so there's no one right answer. Tom wants to add this to the discussion:

Quote from "Doktor Tom":
I don't think a PTQ would have to be put on hold. Again, one match is seriously affected. The judges can -- with the help of other players, if necessary -- move the stricken player from the area if it safe to do so. If not, then he's lying on the floor until medical help arrives. If you're lucky, one of your players is an EMT. If not, then the head judge should direct someone to call 911 immediately. Don't just say, "Somebody call 911," because people will rubberneck and presume that someone else is doing it; specify someone, preferably on your staff or a store employee, and direct them to make the call. Encourage the other players to keep playing. The reality is that there's nothing you or they can do.

Okay, that discussion was too serious. Hey, look, a kitten! It's eating my face! AAAAUGH!

All I want for Christmas is
a Beta Black Lotus.
Q: My opponent has Teferi's Puzzle Box and four Underworld Dreams out, and we're both at 4. Is there any way I can draw my next card, Char, use that and my Lightning Helix, and survive?

A: Sure, that's easy. Just Helix him in your upkeep (remember: Untap, Upkeep, Draw!) Now you're up 7-1, and move on to your draw step. Before anything else happens, you draw for the turn.

Now, Underworld Dreams has triggered all over the place on your draw, and the Puzzle Box has triggered for the turn, and your opponent can toss these on the stack in any order he likes.

Not that it matters. With all five triggers on the stack, you can Char the life outta him and go to 5 against his -3, and he loses like a losing loser and the triggers never resolve. So you didn't even need to play the Helix, though it sure didn't hurt.

Q: Can I use Lightning Cloud to kill lots of creatures with Horobi, Death's Wail in play, even if I can't pay the red mana when the ability resolves?

A: Feel free to spend all of your red mana on spells, Horobi's going to snack on your targets before the Cloud can ping them. As soon as the Cloud's trigger goes on the stack, you pick a target, even if there's no possible way that you can pay the R. Horobi triggers to kill your target (unless, of course, you target your opponent, who is only vaguely a creature) right away.

Q: There's a Flame Wave coming my way, and I have a Coalhauler Swine with Pariah's Shield. How does this work out?

A: With lots of burnination.

Flame Wave deals 4 damage to everything on your side. However, the 4 damage for you also hits this little piggy, so he takes 8 damage from Flame Wave. The Swine triggers as it utterly explodes, it goes to the graveyard, and its ability goes on the stack just as the flames die down and you and your surviving creatures munch on bacon.

And then KABOOM – the triggered ability resolves, and flying pork chops of 8 damage come at you and your opponent. Pariah Shield wants to redirect that damage, but it's not equipping anything anymore so it just pouts while you suffer a pork chop in the nose.

Q: I have a Snow-Covered Mountain imprinted on Extraplanar Lens – will Melting make it useless?

A: You'll be fine. Taking away the Snow-Covered supertype won't change the names, so your frosty rocks will still make extra mana.

Well, it's already 12 December. Thijs and Tom will tackle some articles for the 19th and 26th, so I'll see you all again for MTG Salvation's very first article of the new year on 2 January, hopefully with some exciting new things and without a massive hangover.

Until next time, may all of your gifts be given!

-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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