Published on 12/26/2005

Yule Be Smarter for Reading This

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 Information in this article may be out of date due to subsequent Oracle and/or rules changes.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

By the time you peruse this column, friends, it will be Christmas Day. Or, if you decided to skip reading this for silly reasons like "spending time with your family," it's just after Christmas. Chestnuts have roasted on open fires, Jack Frost has nipped at your nose, and if you're lucky, you found someone special under the mistletoe. Whenever you get around to reading this, Merry Christmas from those of us on the CI team. :) Even Moko, who has gotten everyone bananas as their gifts. In the spirit of Christmas, we're going to focus on Christmas colors for this column: Green, Red, and White cards only. Blue and Black only dominate Christmas color schemes in Bizarro World.

I'm sure you noticed the pun in the title. Consider that my gift to you.

Is there a right to awful puns?
Q: Speaking of bad puns, I have a question about Werebear. If I suddenly lose threshold, does he go back to being a 1/1 right away?

A: When the spell or ability that takes threshold away from you (something like Coffin Purge or Withered Wretch) resolves, your Werebear will lose the threshold bonus.

Let's check the CompRules glossary entry for "Threshold."
Threshold is a characteristic-setting ability. An object with threshold has the text after "Threshold —" if its controller has seven or more cards in his or her graveyard. Otherwise, the text after "Threshold —" is treated as though it did not appear on the object. An instant or sorcery with threshold has the threshold text only if it's on the stack. An artifact, creature, enchantment, or land with threshold has the threshold text only if it's in play. See rule 502.23, "Threshold."

As soon as you no longer have threshold, the Werebear is treated as if everything after the "Threshold – " in his rules text were blank. If he's already taken a point of damage, you'll need a way to save him before you lose threshold, or you'll just have to grin and bear his demise.

Aren't bad puns fun?

Q: I have a creature enchanted with Rancor. My opponent plays Wrath of God. Do I still get the Rancor back?

A: You sure do. When Wrath of God resolves, it will destroy all creatures. Then state-based effects will see Rancor trying to enchant an invalid permanent. It will then go to the graveyard. When it does, because it went to the graveyard from play, its ability will trigger. When that triggered ability resolves, you may return Rancor to your hand.

Q: Would he have a chance to remove the Rancor before I could get it back?

A: Certainly. Rancor is a triggered ability, after all. Once it hits the graveyard and triggers, both players have the chance to play spells and abilities. Your opponent can then respond with a spell or ability that removes your Rancor from the game. When Rancor's ability tries to resolve, it will no longer be in the graveyard, so it can't return itself to play.

Q: I have a flipped Budoka Gardener in play. If I make an Elemental that's a 10/10, does it get bigger if I play another land?

A: No. The Elementals created by Dokai, Weaver of Life have set values for their power and toughness. When the Elementals are created, the game checks the number of lands you have in play and sets the Elemental's power and toughness to that number. This all happens when Dokai's activated ability resolves. Now, if the ability were to say, "Put an X/X green Elemental creature token into play. It has, 'this creature's power and toughness are each equal to the number of lands you control,'" then the power and toughness of the creature would change as your land count changed.

As worded, though, you have no fear of Armageddon.

He can still be made to gasp for air.
Q: Can my Konda, Lord of Eiganjo be killed by my opponent's Last Gasp?

A: The breath will indeed be driven from the Daimyo's lungs ...most of the time. Konda is indestructible, so lethal damage doesn't destroy him, nor does any effect which specifically says, "destroy." However, reducing a creature's toughness to 0 does not fall under either of those. State-based effects see a creature with 0 toughness and ship it off to the graveyard posthaste. Even regeneration can't help.

I say most of the time because Konda would survive if he is enjoying his ample bushido bonus. This will be true even if he takes damage in combat, and you follow that up with Last Gasp. Here's an example: you swing with Konda, and your opponent blocks with Kodama of the North Tree. Bushido triggers, and when it resolves, Konda becomes an 8/8. Combat damage will destroy the Kodama, and 6 damage will be assigned to Konda. If your opponent plays Last Gasp here, Konda lives, since you're looking at a lethal damage scenario. Last Gasp makes him a 5/5 with 6 damage on him, and we already know that lethal damage is sloughed off by indestructible creatures.

Here's what the CompRules say about it:

If a permanent is indestructible, rules and effects can't destroy it. Such permanents are not destroyed by lethal damage, and they ignore the lethal-damage state-based effect (see rule 420.5c). Rules or effects may cause an indestructible permanent to be sacrificed, put into a graveyard, or removed from the game.
. . .
420.5b A creature with toughness 0 or less is put into its owner's graveyard. Regeneration can't replace this event.

Q: How does Compost interact with dredge, if my opponent dredges several Black cards into his graveyard?

A: Pretty well, at least for you. Each Black card dredged into your opponent's graveyard will cause Compost to trigger. There is no restriction on Compost which forces the Black cards to go to the graveyard from play. When each of the Compost triggers resolves, you'll have the option of drawing a card. Since drawing cards is usually good, you'll probably opt to fill up your hand.

Q: Does Ground Seal stop dredge? What about the second activated ability of Psychatog?

A: It is quite ineffective against both. Dredge does not target any cards in the graveyard, which is all Ground Seal can stop. Dredge is a static ability which creates a replacement effect. Dr. Teeth's ability also does not target any of the cards in your graveyard. You simply choose two of them to be removed from the game. Things which target will use the word "target" in their text (except for Auras, which target a permanent of the appropriate type as you play them). Ground Seal can only stop things which target cards in a graveyard, like Life // Death trying to resurrect an Akroma.

Bonus: Had you asked three questions, I could have said something like, "Ho, ho, ho! No, no, no!" Then again, maybe it's best you only asked two questions.... :()

Q: My opponent blocks my Phytohydra with a Stinkweed Imp. Does my Hydra die?

A: It is very much alive. Phytohydra's ability is a replacement effect. The event which would damage the Phytohydra is replaced with an event that puts that many +1/+1 counters on it. Since replaced events never happened, Stinkweed Imp did not deal any damage to your Phytohydra. No damage means no trigger, and no trigger means no dead Hydra.

Q: If I have an appropriate spell imprinted on Isochron Scepter, does my Quirion Dryad get a +1/+1 counter when I activate the Scepter and copy that spell?

A: It does indeed. Isochron Scepter's activated ability creates a copy of the spell imprinted on it, which has all the characteristics of the original spell. Then you have the option to play that copy. Since playing copies of spells off of Isochron Scepter counts as playing a spell, the Dryad will see that you've played an appropriate spell, and its ability will trigger. When that trigger resolves, your Dryad will get a +1/+1 counter. So, while it doesn't happen immediately, it does happen, but your opponent could have some dastardly plans in response.

Now in foil, for extra EVIL~!
Q: I've seen my opponents playing with things like Insect tokens, Bear tokens, etc, all of which are made like regular Magic cards. How can I get these?

A: The quick way: fake a look of surprise, point at something behind your opponent, and yell, "Oh my God, it's Elvis!" Your opponent will obviously turn around, as the potential return of the King of Rock and Roll is a momentous event indeed. While he is distracted, steal all of his tokens.

The somewhat more time-consuming (but far more legal) way: sign up for Player Rewards. "How do I sign up for Player Rewards," you ask? It's simple. Go to the Player Rewards homepage and enter some information at the bottom. That will bring up the full PR application, which you'll fill out and submit. Once it's processed, you're a part of the program. For every five sanctioned events you play, you earn a current textless promo card and an older card (either an older textless spell or a creature token). For every 20 events you play, you earn a premium foil card (currently Hypnotic Specter, with the saucy original art). Player Rewards cards are mailed thrice annually: summer, late fall, and early spring. So sign up, and start playing (or keep playing) in sanctioned events.

Q: My opponent played Life From the Loam with no land cards in his graveyard. Is this legal?

A: It sure is. Life From the Loam specifies that a player may target "up to 3 land cards." This means it is legal to target 0 land cards – the only choice you can make if you have no land cards in your graveyard. What this does is put Life From the Loam into the graveyard, where you can then get your dredge on.

Q: I'm at 13, and I play Armadillo Cloak on my opponent's Darksteel Colossus. When he attacks, he says I'll die regardless of the Cloak. Why wouldn't it save me?

A: Because Armadillo Cloak does not trigger until the enchanted creature deals damage. You'll take 13 from the Cloaked-up Colossus, but stare-based effects will see that goose egg for your life total long before Armadillo Cloak could save you.

Q: Does the token made by Tolsimir Wolfblood count as a wolf? If I have a Coat of Arms out, will it play nicely with my Tundra Wolves and Timber Wolves?

A: All of your wolves will play nicely in a pack. Until they start fighting over a bunny and rip each other's throats out. That would be unfortunate.

The token created by Tolsimir is named Voja, but it has the creature type of Wolf. Coat of Arms will recognize it as a wolf, and any other wolves you have in play will receive the appropriate bonus.

Props to you, by the way, for playing Timber Wolves. I know it's just a rare Green Benalish Hero, but I always liked the card back in the day.

Q: I have Gigapede in play, and Genesis in my graveyard. Is there a way I can stack their upkeep abilities so that the card (presuming it's a creature card) I discard to Gigapede can be returned by Genesis?

A: I'm afraid not. While it's true that both abilities will trigger at the beginning of your upkeep, and you can stack them in whichever order you want, you'll need a target for Genesis' ability when you put it onto the stack. This means you'll need to target a creature card already in your graveyard when the ability goes onto the stack at the beginning of you upkeep.

Q: Can mana from Food Chain only be used for the mana cost of a creature spell? In other words, if I remove a 4-cc creature from the game and get five Green mana, could I play a Kavu Titan with kicker?

A: Yes. The mana from Food Chain may be used to play the creature spell and any additional costs, like kicker.

Bonus seasonal non-Magic question!

Q: I know this isn't Magic-related, but maybe you might know. What the hell is "auld lang syne?"

A: It's a song that is traditionally sung while ringing in the new year. Most people don't really know the words, apart from the chorus, and I suspect that most of the people singing the song don't really know what those words mean. This is probably because it was written in Lowland Scots.

"Auld Land Syne" was first put to paper by poet Robert Burns, based on older ballads. "Auld lang syne" translates literally into English as "old long since," but it best translated more liberally as "times gone by." The "syne" is pronounced like "sign," not "zyne," which is how many people sing it.

Some of this I already knew, but the rest I learned from Wikipedia. Here is a site which has the original lyrics, plus an English translation. Note that their translation of "auld lang syne" is rendered as "old friends and days."

That's a wrap for this week's special holiday edition of Cranial Insertion. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, have a good one from all of us on the CI team. See you sometime in 2006.

- Tom Fowler

About the Author:
Tom is a Level 2 judge who frequently works in the MD, DC, and PA areas. He is also an active player, and has written articles from both perspectives. Tom has judged numerous Pro Tours, but would like to make it there as a player at least once.


No comments yet.


Follow us @CranialTweet!

Send quick questions to us in English for a short answer.

Follow our RSS feed!