July 2008 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on July 9, 2008

By Mark L. Gottlieb

It's that time again! Each time a Prerelease rolls around, we implement updates to the Comprehensive Rules and the Oracle card database.

These updates happen only when a new set is released, so corrections or improvements that have come to our attention over the past few months are being implemented now. In addition, some rules changes are necessary to make the new cards work.

What is Oracle?

Magic is a game made up of over 9,000 interchangeable pieces—the cards. Over the years, we've felt the need to update the wordings of older cards, whether because we've introduced a new keyword, or a card was printed with a mistake, or we have a clearer wording for what a card does, etc. Rather than sneak into your room at night and change your cards with a magic marker, we keep a database of the "modern wordings" (what the cards would say if we printed them today) of every tournament-legal card ever printed. These wordings are considered the official wordings of the cards, and accurately reflect their functions.

You can access a card's Oracle wording by looking it up in Gatherer.

Changes to the Oracle card database will go into effect on Friday, July 11.

Changes to the Comprehensive Rules will take effect shortly thereafter, though any changes that are necessary for Eventide cards to work will be in effect during the Prerelease. Bear in mind, however, that the new version of the Comp. Rules has not yet been finalized, so the listed amendments are subject to change.

This time around, a whopping 140 cards got tweaks, edits, and fixes in Oracle . . . but most of them are pretty minor. The two highest profile cards to feel the touch of the Rules Manager are Necropotence (which is getting a functional change to its discard ability) and Uba Mask (which is being reverted to its printed wording). I had previously tried giving Uba Mask, Void Maw, and Shared Fate errata to deal with their "this card doesn't work under the rules" problem. The results were suboptimal, so I changed tactics and decided to try to change the rules instead.

If you browse through the explanations listed with each card, you'll find that I contradict myself. Sometimes (as on Forbidden Lore) I think it's fine when a card's Oracle wording has it grant an ability to some other card, even though that's not what the printed card did. Other times (as on Farrel's Mantle), I think that's awful and take great pains to undo it! Sometimes (as on Magus of the Unseen) I think we're obligated to stay true to the most recently printed version of the card, and that Fifth Edition is as fine a set as any other. Other times (as on Elkin Bottle), I think Fifth Edition was lunacy and we're free to ignore it! I know I'm inconsistent. Dealing with Oracle is an art, not a science; it's all judgment calls and balancing interests. We have half a dozen different policies guiding our hands. They're not consistent with one another, and different ones take precedence at different times.

What are the Comprehensive Rules?

Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have over 9,000 interchangeable game pieces, you get some freaky interactions. The Comprehensive Rules cover everything the game has ever come up with, from basic game play structure, to every keyword ever, to entire pages dedicated to single bizarre cards (hello, Mindslaver!) The Comprehensive Rules are, well, comprehensive... but they're also obtuse, unfriendly, and looooong. They're not intended to be a player resource—they're a judge resource, a rules guru resource, and a place to store definitive answers. In fact, I honestly recommend never reading them. For a much friendlier rulebook that is intended to be a player resource, check out the Rules Page and download the Basic Rulebook (2MB PDF), now with an appendix on planeswalker rules. It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames... but you'll never miss them.

I'd like to quote adeyke, who posted this explanation in the message boards for the last Update Bulletin:

The different standards are contradictory. They're trying to reach an ideal Oracle text for each card, but the factors are pulling them in opposite directions. They want to keep it close to the printed wording, but oftentimes, what's printed on the card simply doesn't work. They want to update it to a modern template, but some cards have quirks that simply can't be written cleanly (e.g. Raging River). They want cards to work the same way they did when they were first printed, but they also want them to interact correctly with cards that didn't exist at that time. If all their goals pointed in the same direction, it'd be easy. Since they don't, getting the right Oracle text is a matter of prioritizing and compromising.

I can't say it any better than that, so I won't. I'll be checking this Update Bulletin's message board too, so feel free to post any suggestions you have there.

Oracle changes
Comprehensive Rules changes

Mark

Oracle Changes

Acidic Dagger et al

While researching play restrictions, I found that some cards had the wording "Play [me] only before attackers are declared," some had the wording "Play [me] only during combat before the declare blockers step," and some had the wording "Play [me] only during combat after blockers are declared." What [me] is depends on the card; it might be the name of the card or it might be "this ability."

The strange thing is that the second one of those three play restrictions matches neither the first nor the third. But it could easily match them by saying "Play [me] only during combat before blockers are declared." So, for consistency, that's what we did.

Cards with this change:
Acidic Dagger, Disharmony, Gorilla War Cry, Melee, Panic, Rapid Fire, Winter's Chill

(Some of those are slightly different, depending on the functionality of the card.)

Alaborn Veteran et al

Alaborn Veteran plus 25 other Portal, Portal Second Age, and Portal Three Kingdoms cards have the printed text of "On your turn, before you attack, you may [cost] to [effect]." Oracle translates this as "[Cost]: [Effect] Play this ability only during your turn, before the combat phase." We can make the play restriction truer to the printed text.

New Oracle wording (just of this ability):
[Cost]: [Effect] Play this ability only during your turn, before attackers are declared.

Cards with this change:
Alaborn Veteran; Apprentice Sorcerer; Cao Cao, Lord of Wei; Capricious Sorcerer; Coastal Wizard; Cunning Advisor; Diaochan, Artful Beauty; Fire Bowman; Goblin Firestarter; Hua Tuo, Honored Physician; King's Assassin; Lady Sun; Loyal Retainers; Lu Su, Wu Advisor; Norwood Priestess; Pang Tong, "Young Phoenix"; Shu Farmer; Steam Catapult; Stern Marshal; Stone Catapult; Talas Researcher; Temple Elder; Wu Longbowman; Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed; Xun Yu, Wei Advisor; Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist

Altar Golem & Nettle Sentinel

These two Eventide cards were printed with templates that were not incorrect, but were nonstandard. They each say "[This card] doesn't untap during its controller's untap step." They'll be changed to say "[This card] doesn't untap during your untap step."

An-Havva Inn, Meteor Shower & Vitalizing Cascade

The text of these cards each use the mathematical symbol "+" (as in "X+1 life"). This is nonstandard, and they're being changed to use the word "plus" instead. This isn't a functional change.

Animate Artifact

The Revised and Fourth Edition versions of Animate Artifact specified that Animate Artifact doesn't affect artifact creatures. That functionality was eliminated from its Oracle wording. It's being put back.

New Oracle wording:
Enchant artifact
As long as enchanted artifact isn't a creature, it's an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost.

This may seem paradoxical, but it works just like March of the Machines does.

Aven Flock et al

Ninth Edition cards with flying had the reminder text "(This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying.)" This is out-of-date; the flying reminder text is now "(This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.)" Nineteen cards in Oracle will be updated accordingly.

It's a little weird that flying reminder text even exists in Oracle, since it doesn't appear on most cards. It's only there when it's been brought in from a Core Set. I like leaving it there; if someone has a Core Set card and looks it up in Gatherer, it's more useful for that person to see the new reminder text that includes reach than to see no reminder text at all.

Cards with this change:
Aven Flock, Azure Drake, Blinding Angel, Bog Imp, Dancing Scimitar, Fleeting Image, Flight, Foul Imp, Goblin Balloon Brigade, Leonin Skyhunter, Levitation, Pegasus Charger, Rathi Dragon, Sage Aven, Shard Phoenix, Storm Crow, Will-o'-the-Wisp, Wind Drake, Yawgmoth Demon

Balduvian Conjurer, Genju of the Fields, Liberate & Thelonite Druid

These are cosmetic fixes. The norm for these templates (though not the hard-and-fast rule) is to put "until end of turn" or "at end of turn" at the end of the sentence. See Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, for example.

New Oracle wording for Balduvian Conjurer:
{T}: Target snow land becomes a 2/2 creature until end of turn. It's still a land.

New Oracle wording for Genju of the Fields:
Enchant Plains
{2}: Enchanted Plains becomes a 2/5 white Spirit creature with lifelink until end of turn. It's still a land. (Whenever it deals damage, its controller gains that much life.)
When enchanted Plains is put into a graveyard, you may return Genju of the Fields from your graveyard to your hand.

New Oracle wording for Liberate:
Remove target creature you control from the game. Return that card to play under its owner's control at end of turn.

New Oracle wording for Thelonite Druid:
{1G}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature: Forests you control become 2/3 creatures until end of turn. They're still lands.

Brainstorm & Diabolic Vision

As printed, these cards said to put cards on top of your library "in any order." Those words are missing from Oracle, however.

It's a cosmetic fix for Brainstorm, since you'd put the cards on top of your library in any order whether the template specifically said so or not. But the card might as well be as helpful as possible.

New Oracle wording for Brainstorm:
Draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.

It's a functional fix for Diabolic Vision. Since the cards you're looking at never leave your library, you must keep them in the same order unless the card says otherwise. Well, the card is supposed to say otherwise!

New Oracle wording for Diabolic Vision:
Look at the top five cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest on top of your library in any order.

Broken Visage

Some template cleanup, nothing functional. Using Exile as a precedent, this should say "nonartifact attacking creature" rather than "attacking nonartifact creature." Using Duplicant as a precedent, we can get a smoother template for setting the token's power and toughness.

New Oracle wording:
Destroy target nonartifact attacking creature. It can't be regenerated. Put a black Spirit creature token into play with that creature's power and toughness. Sacrifice the token at end of turn.

Burnout

The most minor fix imaginable. "It is" is being changed to "it's", as is our style.

Cloak of Confusion & Forbidden Lore

A couple of odd cases that are related in spirit.

Cloak of Confusion was printed in both Ice Age and Fifth Edition. The Ice Age wording specified that it must be attached to a creature you control. But the Fifth Edition wording did not. This set up some bizarre functionality: You could attach it to your opponent's biggest creature, then prevent that creature's combat damage every turn as long as you were willing to discard a card. If your hand was empty, you could just prevent that creature's combat damage for free!

This wasn't the intent of the card. But were we beholden to it? One of our standard policies when dealing with conflicting printed wordings is that we follow the most recently printed card. But there are exceptions: We can ignore boxed sets and special editions (there are generally far fewer of them in circulation, and they're more likely to include strange templating decisions). Well, speaking of strange templating decisions, we will—when strongly warranted—also ignore Fifth Edition. This feels like one of those cases. So we're changing "Enchant creature" to "Enchant creature you control."

New Oracle wording for Cloak of Confusion:
Enchant creature you control
Whenever enchanted creature attacks and isn't blocked, you may have it deal no combat damage this turn. If you do, defending player discards a card at random.

Forbidden Lore was printed just once, in Ice Age. The way it was printed, it could enchant any land, and it gave its controller the ability to tap that land to give a creature +2/+1 until end of turn. So . . . you could enchant your opponent's land and then tap that land at will to pump up your creatures?! Weird . . . and probably a bad idea. Trying to use it while it's attached to an opponent's land would boil down to a battle over priority and mana burn. Ick.

As was the norm, this kind of ability was changed in Oracle to grant the enchanted permanent an activated ability. In addition, it was changed so it could enchant only a land you control. Implementing both measures were unnecessary; either one on its own would shut down the ugly (and presumably unintended) interaction. So we're changing "Enchant land you control" to "Enchant land."

New Oracle wording for Forbidden Lore:
Enchant land
Enchanted land has "{T}: Target creature gets +2/+1 until end of turn."

Clockwork Beast, Clockwork Avian, Clockwork Steed & Clockwork Swarm

These creatures were printed with wordings that said "At the end of any combat in which Clockwork Beast / Avian is assigned to attack or block, remove a counter" and "At the end of any combat in which Clockwork Steed / Swarm attacked or blocked, remove one of these counters."

In Oracle, these abilities had changed. They still triggered at end of combat, but now they checked whether the Clockwork creature attached that turn. They should just be checking that combat.

New Oracle wording (just of this ability):
At end of combat, if Clockwork Beast / Avian / Steed / Swarm attacked or blocked this combat, remove a +1/+0 counter from it.

Cunning Giant

We recently updated the "supertrample" template to use the word "assign." It's the correct term, and Doran, the Siege Tower made it safe to use in templates everywhere. Cunning Giant is another card where it should be used.

New Oracle wording:
If Cunning Giant is unblocked, you may have it assign its combat damage to a creature defending player controls.

Cyclopean Tomb

As printed, Cyclopean Tomb can affect only non-Swamps. That functionality wasn't maintained in Oracle, and is being restored. Also, this card ignored the rule that says counters are indistinguishable. There's no way to tell which mire counter is which.

New Oracle wording:
{2}, {T}: Put a mire counter on target non-Swamp land. That land is a Swamp as long as it has a mire counter on it. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
When Cyclopean Tomb is put into a graveyard from play, at the beginning of each of your upkeeps until the end of the game, remove a mire counter from a land that a mire counter was put onto with Cyclopean Tomb.

Deep Spawn

As printed, if you activate Deep Spawn's ability, it doesn't untap during your next untap step. This was changed in Oracle so it doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step. This is functionally different with respect to control-change effects. The printed functionality is being restored.

New Oracle wording:
Trample
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Deep Spawn unless you put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard.
{U}: Deep Spawn gains shroud until end of turn and doesn't untap during your next untap step. Tap Deep Spawn. (A permanent with shroud can't be the target of spells or abilities.)

Note that this is different than Altar Golem and Nettle Sentinel because this card has a triggered ability and those cards have static abilities. That's why this change is functional but the other change isn't.

Dream Tides, Magnetic Mountain, Mudslide & Thelon's Curse

These cards all state that certain permanents don't untap during their controllers' untap steps, then set a cost to untap some of them.

As printed, these all set an "additional" cost to untap permanents. As written, it certainly seems that these costs should be cumulative: A Dream Tides and a Magnetic Mountain would make it cost to untap a creature that's blue but not green. Figuring out how to make that work under the modern rules is a long-term project. But the cards don't work like that right now, and that's not what I'm addressing about them in this update.

At the moment, these cards each grant an ability to the creatures they refer to. While that's the best call in certain cases (like Forbidden Lore, above), I'd like to get rid of it here. The printed texts didn't do it, and it's functionally different with respect to cards that reference abilities. So we're trying something different on these cards.

New Oracle wording for Dream Tides:
Creatures don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player may choose any number of tapped nongreen creatures he or she controls and pay {2} for each creature chosen this way. If the player does, untap those creatures.

New Oracle wording for Magnetic Mountain:
Blue creatures don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player may choose any number of tapped blue creatures he or she controls and pay {4} for each creature chosen this way. If the player does, untap those creatures.

New Oracle wording for Mudslide:
Creatures without flying don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player may choose any number of tapped creatures without flying he or she controls and pay {2} for each creature chosen this way. If the player does, untap those creatures.

New Oracle wording for Thelon's Curse:
Blue creatures don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player may choose any number of tapped blue creatures he or she controls and pay {U} for each creature chosen this way. If the player does, untap those creatures.

Drought

This is the only card that cares about whether a spell has a in its mana cost, as opposed to whether it has a "black mana symbol" in its mana cost—and the same is true for any other color. It's very confusing with hybrid cards, because while a is a black mana symbol, it's not a . There's precedent for globally aligning mana symbol usage within templates (compare Heart Warden's printed wording to its Oracle wording—and every other card that adds green mana to your mana pool). We leaned on that precedent in deciding to errata Drought to say "black mana symbol." This will bring it in line with what most players would expect it to do. We also used Brutal Suppression as a precedent to simplify the template.

New Oracle wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Drought unless you pay {WW}.
Spells cost an additional "Sacrifice a Swamp" to play for each black mana symbol in their mana costs.
Activated abilities cost an additional "Sacrifice a Swamp" to play for each black mana symbol in their activation costs.

Dual Nature, Tetravus & Tombstone Stairwell

These cards all have similar functions, but different templates. I wanted to synch up the templates of cards that create tokens then specifically refer to the tokens they created. I think Saproling Burst does it right: It says "all tokens put into play with Saproling Burst." Dual Nature and Tombstone Stairwell are getting nonfunctional changes to line up with that template.

Tetravus was a stranger case. It has a long, convoluted ability that has you put counters on it, then take counters off it. For ease of use, and because I think it's justified by the printed wording, I wanted to break that ability up into two abilities: one for putting counters on, and one for taking counters off. Note that you can have the two abilities resolve in either order.

New Oracle wording for Tetravus:
Flying
Tetravus comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove any number of +1/+1 counters from Tetravus. If you do, put into play that many 1/1 Tetravite artifact creature tokens with flying and "Tetravite can't be enchanted."
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove any number of tokens put into play with Tetravus from the game. If you do, put that many +1/+1 counters on Tetravus.

Ebon Praetor

As printed, Ebon Praetor always got a -2/-2 counter during your upkeep, then you could sacrifice a creature to remove a -2/-2 counter. Its Oracle wording streamlines things by combining those things into the same ability and wording it such that you could prevent the -2/-2 counter from ever being put on it. This is a bit too much streamlining, in my opinion. As long as we're here, we also changed the order in which trample and first strike appear.

New Oracle wording:
First strike, trample
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a -2/-2 counter on Ebon Praetor.
Sacrifice a creature: Remove a -2/-2 counter from Ebon Praetor. If the sacrificed creature was a Thrull, put a +1/+0 counter on Ebon Praetor. Play this ability only during your upkeep and only once each turn.

Elemental Augury

Its template should match Sage Owl. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
{3}: Look at the top three cards of target player's library, then put them back in any order.

Elkin Bottle

Elkin Bottle was printed in both Ice Age and Fifth Edition. The Ice Age wording said that if you fail to play the bonus card, it's removed from the game. The Fifth Edition wording said that if you fail to play the bonus card, it's put into your graveyard.

We've been adhering to the Fifth Edition wording because it's the most recently printed. But it's clunky (it needs to contain an extra triggered ability that triggers slightly after the point by which you didn't play the card), and it doesn't match other similar cards (such as Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind). If the Ice Age wording didn't exist, we wouldn't dream of changing this card for those reasons. But because the Ice Age wording does exist, and is significantly cleaner, we're invoking the "we opt to ignore Fifth Edition" escape clause. (See Cloak of Confusion.)

New Oracle wording:
{3}, {T}: Remove the top card of your library from the game. Until the beginning of your next upkeep, you may play that card.

Essence Filter, Lava Storm & Sewers of Estark

There are a number of cards that have modal wordings in Oracle even though they weren't printed that way. For most of them, this is the correct modern template. Take Red Elemental Blast, for example. If you tried to play its printed wording under today's rules, you'd have to target both a blue spell and a blue permanent—if there wasn't a blue spell on the stack, you couldn't play it at all! Modal functionality for these cards is clearly correct.

But for some, it's not necessary. They offer a choice, and that decision can be made when the spell resolves, not when it's played. If it works for Catastrophe, it can work for these cards as well.

New Oracle wording for Essence Filter:
Destroy all enchantments or all nonwhite enchantments.

New Oracle wording for Lava Storm:
Lava Storm deals 2 damage to each attacking creature or Lava Storm deals 2 damage to each blocking creature.

Sewers of Estark got a broader change. As printed, it checked whether the target creature was attacking or blocking when it resolved. In Oracle, that became a targeting restriction. Its printed functionality is being restored.

New Oracle wording for Sewers of Estark:
Choose target creature. If it's attacking, it's unblockable this turn. If it's blocking, prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by it and each creature it's blocking.

Farrel's Mantle

The Oracle wording grants an ability to the enchanted creature. That's understandable; this is a complex card. But there's a way to put the ability back on the enchantment where it belongs.

New Oracle wording:
Enchant creature
Whenever enchanted creature attacks and isn't blocked, its controller may have it deal damage equal to its power plus 2 to target creature. If that player does, the attacking creature deals no combat damage this turn.

Feint

This is getting a couple of nonfunctional changes: Better placement of "this turn" and changing "all" to "each."

New Oracle wording:
Tap all creatures blocking target attacking creature. Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by that creature and each creature blocking it.

Forethought Amulet

Forethought Amulet's printed text referred to instant or sorcery sources. It was changed at some point in Oracle to refer to instant and sorcery spells. It's getting changed back.

New Oracle wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Forethought Amulet unless you pay {3}.
If an instant or sorcery source would deal 3 or more damage to you, it deals 2 damage to you instead.

Glacial Chasm

This card had undergone a few changes in Oracle over the years. As printed, it said "You cannot attack." That became Oracle-ized as "Skip your combat phase." But it's more accurately translated as "Creatures you control can't attack." Festival got a similar fix a few months ago.

Also, Glacial Chasm was printed with the ability "When Glacial Chasm comes into play, sacrifice a land." This was changed in Oracle to the same kind of "As [this] comes into play" replacement used on Kjeldoran Outpost and other lands of this era. This was done to mimic their functionality under the rules when they were printed (long before Sixth Edition): You couldn't put Kjeldoran Outpost into play, tap it for mana, and then sacrifice it. Glacial Chasm doesn't need the same fix, however, because it doesn't tap for mana!

New Oracle wording:
Cumulative upkeep—Pay 2 life. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
When Glacial Chasm comes into play, sacrifice a land.
Creatures you control can't attack.
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you.

Goblin Ski Patrol

As printed, there was no duration on the +2/+0 and flying. There didn't have to be—Goblin Ski Patrol wouldn't survive the turn. Somewhere along the way, this gained a duration in Oracle. It's being eliminated.

But what if Goblin Ski Patroldid survive the turn? It, like many other cards, was printed with the instruction to "bury" it. There was no getting around "bury"—that card was sent to the graveyard, period. When "bury" was decommissioned as a Magic term in the Sixth Edition rules update, it was replaced by either "destroy, it can't be regenerated" or "sacrifice," depending on the case. By now, both of those have escape clauses, however. "Destroy" won't take out an indestructible creature. "Sacrifice" won't take out a creature whose controller has changed. (I can't sacrifice a creature you control.)

Because we really, truly want to "bury" Goblin Ski Patrol, we're interpreting that as "its controller sacrifices it." Like "bury," there are no outs to that. At this point, we don't intend to propagate that template to globally replace "bury," but we're happy to implement it here.

New Oracle wording:
{1R}: Goblin Ski Patrol gets +2/+0 and gains flying. Its controller sacrifices it at end of turn. Play this ability only once and only if you control a snow Mountain.

Guiding Spirit & Rootrunner

These cards say "on the top of [someone's] library" when the standard template is "on top of [someone's] library." This is a minor, nonfunctional change.

New Oracle wording for Guiding Spirit:
Flying
{T}: If the top card of target player's graveyard is a creature card, put that card on top of that player's library.

New Oracle wording for Rootrunner:
{GG}, Sacrifice Rootrunner: Put target land on top of its owner's library.
Soulshift 3 (When this is put into a graveyard from play, you may return target Spirit card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to your hand.)

Gustha's Scepter

One template change and one functional change. The template change is that "You may look at it at any time" should be "You may look at it as long as it remains removed from the game" to conform to other templates.

The functional change is that this card's triggered ability, as printed, triggered when Gustha's Scepter leaves play or you lose control of it. In Oracle, that was changed to trigger only when Gustha's Scepter leaves play. It will now trigger when you lose control of Gustha's Scepter (which covers both losing control of it to another player and having it leave play).

While we were here, we put the three abilities in a more logical order.

New Oracle wording:
{T}: Remove a card in your hand from the game face down. You may look at it as long as it remains removed from the game.
{T}: Return a card you own removed from the game with Gustha's Scepter to your hand.
When you lose control of Gustha's Scepter, put all cards removed from the game with Gustha's Scepter into their owners' graveyards.

Hatred

As printed, this card used X in the additional cost. We can still do that (Restless Dreams does it, for example), and it makes the template shorter than what's currently in Oracle. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
As an additional cost to play Hatred, pay X life.
Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn.

Imperial Recruiter

The second most minor fix imaginable. "That card" was changed to "it." This isn't a functional change.

Infiltrator il-Kor

The reminder text for suspend was changed between Time Spiral and Planar Chaos to make it clear what would happen if someone other than you removed the last time counter from one of your suspended cards (by using Clockspinning, perhaps). The ability didn't change, just the reminder text. Completely randomly, this one Future Sight card was printed with the old reminder text. It's getting updated.

Jester's Mask

Its template should match Head Games. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
Jester's Mask comes into play tapped.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Jester's Mask: Target opponent puts the cards from his or her hand on top of his or her library. Search that player's library for that many cards. That player puts those cards into his or her hand, then shuffles his or her library.

Jeweled Amulet & Ice Cauldron

Both Jeweled Amulet and Ice Cauldron have printed wordings that assume they'll only ever have one charge counter on them, and that counter will be put on them as a result of playing its ability. (They say "Remove the charge counter from [this card].") They didn't foresee a day in which Power Conduit, Clockspinning, and Fate Transfer would exist.

How Oracle treats this part of the template differs between the two cards, however. Ice Cauldron now says "Remove a charge counter from Ice Cauldron." But Jeweled Amulet says "Remove all charge counters from Jeweled Amulet." I think Ice Cauldron has it right; for Jeweled Amulet, one counter should equal one mana. Removing all the counters also necessitated a play restriction on Jeweled Amulet's ability to make sure that it had a counter on it to begin with. There's a better way. . .

New Oracle wording for Jeweled Amulet:
{1}, {T}: Put a charge counter on Jeweled Amulet. Note the type of mana spent to pay this activation cost. Play this ability only if there are no charge counters on Jeweled Amulet.
{T}, Remove a charge counter from Jeweled Amulet: Add one mana of Jeweled Amulet's last noted type to your mana pool.

This included some new templating technology, so Ice Cauldron goes along for the ride on that. This isn't a functional change for Ice Cauldron.

New Oracle wording for Ice Cauldron:
{X}, {T}: Put a charge counter on Ice Cauldron and remove a nonland card in your hand from the game. As long as that card remains removed from the game, you may play it. Note the type and amount of mana spent to pay this activation cost. Play this ability only if there are no charge counters on Ice Cauldron.
{T}, Remove a charge counter from Ice Cauldron: Add mana of Ice Cauldron's last noted type and amount to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to play the last card removed from the game with Ice Cauldron.

Kjeldoran Home Guard

Its printed wording triggered at end of combat. Its Oracle wording triggers when it attacks or blocks, then sets up a delayed triggered ability that triggers at end of combat. It's being reverted to its original trigger condition.

New Oracle wording:
At end of combat, if Kjeldoran Home Guard attacked or blocked this combat, put a -0/-1 counter on Kjeldoran Home Guard and put a 0/1 white Deserter creature token into play.

Kjeldoran Pride

As printed, the activated ability could move Kjeldoran Pride to "another" creature. Currently, the activated ability can attach Kjeldoran Pride to any creature, including the one it's already attached to. It should have to target some other creature.

New Oracle wording:
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2.
{2U}: Attach Kjeldoran Pride to target creature other than enchanted creature.

Krovikan Sorcerer

This card has been printed twice. Its wording changed from one printing to the next, but both times, the following remained true: If you discarded a black card with Krovikan Sorcerer, you had to draw two cards and discard one. You'd be unable to simply draw one card—the only way to do that would be to discard a nonblack card. Why, then, does the Oracle wording let you discard any card (including a black card) to draw a card? I have no idea.

New Oracle wording:
{T}, Discard a nonblack card: Draw a card.
{T}, Discard a black card: Draw two cards, then discard one of them.

Krovikan Vampire

Pretty minor tweak: "the creature" is being changed to "it." It makes it easier to grok if the permanent it's referring to isn't a creature for some reason.

New Oracle wording:
At end of turn, if a creature dealt damage by Krovikan Vampire this turn was put into a graveyard, put that card into play under your control. Sacrifice it when you lose control of Krovikan Vampire.

Magus of the Unseen

This is another card that was printed in both Ice Age and Fifth Edition, and the two printings were functionally different. The Ice Age card gave haste to an artifact creature you stole. The Fifth Edition card gave haste to any artifact you stole. For some reason, the Oracle wording matched the Ice Age version. In this case, the Fifth Edition version is simpler, shorter, and more intuitive (if you gain control of an unanimated Jade Statue, for example, then animate it later in your turn). So we're going with that one.

New Oracle wording:
{1U}, {T}: Untap target artifact an opponent controls and gain control of it until end of turn. It gains haste until end of turn. When you lose control of the artifact, tap it.

Minion of Leshrac

The way it was printed, its upkeep sacrifice was optional. Compare it to Breeding Pit (an optional upkeep cost) and a Lord of the Pit from that era (a mandatory upkeep cost); it matches the former, not the latter. Yet in Oracle, its upkeep sacrifice had become mandatory. This is being changed back.

New Oracle wording:
Protection from black
At the beginning of your upkeep, Minion of Leshrac deals 5 damage to you unless you sacrifice a creature other than Minion of Leshrac. If Minion of Leshrac deals damage to you this way, tap it.
{T}: Destroy target creature or land.

Musician

This card sparked an intense debate in R&D because what it should do (based on my modern-day reading of its printed wording) is quite different than what it actually did (according to everyone's memories of playing with this card). Both of them were different than the Oracle wording, which had abandoned the idea of music counters altogether. We eventually came to the following template, which stays true to the way everyone played this card but also reinstates the music counters.

New Oracle wording:
Cumulative upkeep {1} (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
{T}: Put a music counter on target creature. If it doesn't have "At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy this creature unless you pay {1} for each music counter on it," it gains that ability.

Nature's Blessing

The Oracle template is wrong: Creature's don't "get" counters; counters are put on them. This should basically match the template of Flowstone Sculpture. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
{GW}: Discard a card: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature or that creature gains banding, first strike, or trample. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Necropotence

It's yet another card printed in both Ice Age and Fifth Edition—and this time, the cards match! But Oracle doesn't. Both printed versions have abilities that trigger whenever you discard a card; those abilities remove that card from the game. The Oracle wording changes that to a replacement ability. You still discard the card, but it never hits the graveyard. This can go back to being a triggered ability. The new ability being implemented here specifies that the ability looks for the discarded card in the graveyard. If it can't find it there (due to Library of Leng, for example), then it won't remove it from the game.

New Oracle wording:
Skip your draw step.
Whenever you discard a card, remove that card in your graveyard from the game.
Pay 1 life: Remove the top card of your library from the game face down. Put that card into your hand at the end of your turn.

Phyrexian Portal

The Oracle template moved things around from the original, and upon reading it, it's hard to tell what happens to all the cards. It references the first pile, then references the second pile, then says to shuffle your library—which still includes the first pile, though it's not at all clear. Re-juggling the sentences should help. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
{3}: Target opponent looks at the top ten cards of your library and separates them into two face-down piles. Remove one of those piles from the game. Search the other pile for a card and put it into your hand, then shuffle your library. Play this ability only if your library has ten or more cards in it.

Piracy

This has had a clunky Oracle wording for a while. We're cleaning it up. It's not functionally changing.

New Oracle wording:
Until end of turn, you may tap lands you don't control for mana. Spend this mana only to play spells.

Planar Void

Planar Void can't affect itself. If it's put into a graveyard from play, it'll stay in that graveyard. We're tweaking the Oracle template to make that clearer.

New Oracle wording:
Whenever another card is put into a graveyard from anywhere, remove that card from the game.

Purraj of Urborg & Spirit of the Night

Three cards were printed with the static ability "First strike when attacking": Purraj of Urborg, Spirit of the Night, and Soltari Lancer. All of them had become triggered abilities in Oracle. In the last update, I changed Soltari Lancer's ability back to a static ability, but I didn't realize that the same ability existed on two other cards. They'll be getting the same fix.

New Oracle wording (just of this ability):
Purraj of Urborg has first strike as long as it's attacking.
Spirit of the Night has first strike as long as it's attacking.

Pyrrhic Revival

Another Eventide card. Again, its template isn't wrong, just nonstandard. It says "with a -1/-1 counter," but it should say "with an additional -1/-1 counter" like Sage of Fables does. This isn't a functional change.

Quarum Trench Gnomes

As printed, it'd make a Plains tap for colorless mana instead of white mana. Its functionality changed at some point so it'd make a Plains tap for colorless mana instead of any mana. This is different if you're tapping a Tundra, for example. So back it goes.

New Oracle wording:
{T}: If target Plains is tapped for mana, it produces colorless mana instead of white mana. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Ray of Command

The stray line break in its template is being deleted. Nothing else is changing.

Rhystic Cave

This card has a mana ability that produces an indeterminate amount of mana—when you play it, you don't know whether you'll get any mana from it or not. When it was printed, it got immediate errata to put a play restriction on it. But it's a weird play restriction, and it doesn't match Charmed Pendant (another card that produces an indeterminate amount of mana). So now it will.

New Oracle wording:
{T}: Choose a color. Add one mana of that color to your mana pool unless any player pays {1}. Play this ability only any time you could play an instant.

Ritual of Subdual

Its template should match Infernal Darkness. This isn't a functional change.

Cumulative upkeep {2} (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
If a land is tapped for mana, it produces colorless mana instead of any other type.

Rogue Skycaptain

This is getting a minor template tweak to make it easier to process. It's not functionally changing.

New Oracle wording:
Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a wage counter on Rogue Skycaptain. You may pay {2} for each wage counter on it. If you don't, remove all wage counters from Rogue Skycaptain and an opponent gains control of it.

Samite Ministration, Shadowbane & Honorable Passage

Here's what Samite Ministration says now:

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you this turn by a source of your choice. Whenever damage from a black or red source is prevented this way, you gain life equal to that damage.

There are two problems. First, "equal to that damage" is a bad template. "That damage" was prevented, so there is no "that damage." The standard is "you gain life equal to the damage prevented this way," which is used on Reverse Damage, Purity, etc. However, in this case (and with Shadowbane and Honorable Passage), we know by this point how much damage has been prevented because the prevention is referenced in the ability's trigger condition, so we can take a shortcut.

Second, Samite Ministration has a delayed triggered ability without a duration. According to rule 404.4b, that means it will trigger only once. That's clearly not the intent; it should trigger as many times as is appropriate.

New Oracle wording for Samite Ministration:
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you this turn by a source of your choice. Whenever damage from a black or red source is prevented this way this turn, you gain that much life.

New Oracle wording for Shadowbane:
The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to you or a creature you control this turn, prevent that damage. If damage from a black source is prevented this way, you gain that much life.

New Oracle wording for Honorable Passage:
The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to target creature or player this turn, prevent that damage. If damage from a red source is prevented this way, Honorable Passage deals that much damage to the source's controller.

Scars of the Veteran

Its template should match Sacred Boon. This isn't a functional change.

New Oracle wording:
You may remove a white card in your hand from the game rather than pay Scars of the Veteran's mana cost.
Prevent the next 7 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn. At end of turn, put a +0/+1 counter on that creature for each 1 damage prevented this way.

Search for Survivors

The printed wording for this card included the text "Shuffle your graveyard." That was quickly deemed out of bounds, and this card has long had errata that mimicked the intent. The problem is that the errata removes your graveyard from the game, performs its operations on it, then returns those cards to your graveyard. This introduces a couple of zone changes that were not on the original card and is massively functionally different with Countryside Crusher, for one. We're going with a wording based on Fossil Find that's much truer to the printed text.

New Oracle wording:
An opponent chooses a card at random from your graveyard. If it's a creature card, put it into play. Otherwise, remove it from the game. Then reorder your graveyard at random.

Shared Fate, Uba Mask & Void Maw

These three cards were all printed with a problem. They each had an ability that created a replacement effect that removed cards from the game . . . then they referred to the cards removed "with" Shared Fate, Void Maw, or Uba Mask. The problem is that no cards were removed with them; their replacement effects caused other things to remove those cards from the game.

When we run into a problem like this, there are two ways to handle it: Fix the cards, or fix the rules. I tried fixing the cards. But it wasn't a good fix; it used counters and introduced a functional change.

I'm calling a mulligan on these cards. This time, I'm fixing the rules. As a result, I'm restoring the cards' printed wordings.

New Oracle wording for Shared Fate:
If a player would draw a card, that player removes the top card of an opponent's library from the game face down instead.
Each player may look at and play cards he or she removed from the game with Shared Fate.

New Oracle wording for Uba Mask:
If a player would draw a card, that player removes that card from the game face up instead.
Each player may play cards he or she removed from the game with Uba Mask this turn.

New Oracle wording for Void Maw:
Trample
If another creature would be put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game instead.
Put a card removed from the game with Void Maw into its owner's graveyard: Void Maw gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Spoils of War

This is a weird card. Even though it has an X in its mana cost, it's not an X you get to choose—the value of X was defined on the printed card. Few things work like that; Bargaining Table's activated ability comes to mind as one other example. In Oracle, this strayed from strictly defining X to merely putting an upper cap on X. It's being brought back to the printed functionality.

New Oracle wording:
X is the number of artifact and/or creature cards in an opponent's graveyard as you play Spoils of War.
Distribute X +1/+1 counters among any number of target creatures.

Suffocation

As printed, it said to "play only when a red sorcery or instant deals damage to you" (a hard functionality to maintain under modern templating standards) and didn't target anyone. The Oracle wording, on the other hand, targeted a player. We want to get rid of the target but keep the play restriction, so here's what we came up with.

New Oracle wording:
Play Suffocation only if you were dealt damage this turn by a red instant or sorcery spell.
Suffocation deals 4 damage to the controller of the last red instant or sorcery spell that dealt damage to you this turn.
Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

Superior Numbers

As printed, this had two targets: The creature, and the opponent whose creatures you're counting. Its Oracle wording has just one target and assumes (for the most part) that the creature you'd target would naturally belong to someone other than you.

Well, you know what they say: When you assume, you make a fool out of both of us. (Or something.) Let's hit the "restore original functionality" button on this one.

New Oracle wording:
Superior Numbers deals damage to target creature equal to the number of creatures you control in excess of the number of creatures target opponent controls.

If the opponent becomes an illegal target before the spell resolves (but the creature doesn't), the spell will still be able to access information about that opponent. It will resolve as normal and deal the appropriate amount of damage to the creature.

If the creature becomes an illegal target before the spell resolves (but the opponent doesn't), the spell will be unable to affect that creature. Although the spell will still resolve, it won't deal any damage.

Teleport

The printed text of Teleport specified that you could play it only after the attack was declared but before the defense was chosen. Its play restriction in Oracle isn't as specific. I like specificity.

New Oracle wording:
Play Teleport only after attackers are declared and before blockers are declared.
Target creature is unblockable this turn.

Torrent of Lava

This was printed with a crazy wording. Here it is:

Torrent of Lava deals X damage to each creature without flying.
Each creature gains "{T}: Prevent 1 damage to this creature from Torrent of Lava."

I mean, seriously! There's no way that works under today's stodgy, restrictive rules, which is why the card has such a convoluted Oracle wording. It tries its best, but it's functionally different with respect to summoning sick creatures and "unpreventable damage" effects. But hold on a sec... let's take another look at that crazy original wording...

New Oracle wording:
Torrent of Lava deals X damage to each creature without flying.
As long as Torrent of Lava is on the stack, each creature has "{T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to this creature by Torrent of Lava this turn."

Weakstone

This was printed with a static ability, but it had turned into a triggered ability in Oracle. Last update, I undid this very same change on Mightstone, but I somehow neglected its twin.

New Oracle wording:
Attacking creatures get -1/-0.

Withering Wisps

This has an outdated ability that says "Spend no more this way than..." All other similar abilities that used to count the number of mana symbols spent on an ability (Dragon Whelp, Sewer Rats, etc.) have been changed so they count the number of times the ability has been played. The same thing should happen here.

New Oracle wording:
At end of turn, if no creatures are in play, sacrifice Withering Wisps.
{B}: Withering Wisps deals 1 damage to each creature and each player. Play this ability no more times each turn than the number of snow Swamps you control.

Worms of the Earth

The printed text of the final ability was "destroy Worms of the Earth." Somewhere along the line, that became "sacrifice Worms of the Earth" in Oracle. Hey, if you've got a Reknit for the enchantment, I say go for it!

New Oracle wording:
Players can't play lands.
If a land would come into play, instead it doesn't.
At the beginning of each upkeep, any player may sacrifice two lands or pay 5 life. If a player does either, destroy Worms of the Earth.

Back to Intro
Comprehensive Rules changes

Comprehensive Rules Changes

200.1c
This rule was added to specify what it means to have a counter "placed" on something.

202.2b
In this rule, "another" was changed to "an." Sometimes an ability of an object grants a new ability to that very same object, and this rule should include them too.

215.4 and 215.4a
These rules were amended to specify that it's always legal to pay 0 life for something. That was stated elsewhere in the rulebook, but not here.

217.1c
This rule got another exception added to it. The exception already exists; it's for Auras that trigger when the enchanted permanent leaves play and then try to find the permanent and/or the Aura in the new zones they wind up in. This rule is getting bloated, so it may be rewritten or split into separate rules in the future.

402.9
This rule was created. It contains the information previously contained in the rules numbered 407.1 and 407.3.

402.10
This rule was created. It contains the information previously contained in the rule numbered 407.2.

407
A new section for "Linked Abilities" was created and slotted in here. This is a more expansive section than before. Besides covering the "linked abilities" rule at 217.7d, which addressed things like Sisters of Stone Death, it now covers things like:

  • Uba Mask (cards with one ability that creates a replacement effect that removes things from the game, and another ability that refers to the removed things)
  • Saproling Burst (cards with one ability that creates a token, and another ability that refers to those tokens)
  • Quirion Elves (cards with one ability that causes you to choose a value or name a card, and another ability that refers to that choice)
  • Kavu Titan (cards with a kicker ability, and another ability that refers to whether the kicker cost was paid)

...and more.

The key to linked abilities is that they can only refer to one another. This is a change for Quirion Elves. In the past, say you chose "red" for Quirion Elves. Then you used Cytoshape to turn them into Voice of All. Voice of All's protection ability would be able to read the chosen color, and it'd have protection from red. This is no longer true. The color chosen for Quirion Elves is now usable only for the Quirion Elves ability, and can't be used for any other ability. In recent years, too many confusing cases had been coming up involving these kinds of choices and copy effects. (What if you choose a number for Shapeshifter, then turn it into Ashling's Prerogative? What if you choose green Saproling for Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII, then turn it into Quirion Elves? What if you choose Island for Declaration of Naught, then turn it into Meddling Mage?) It had to stop at some point.

In addition, many other rules were modified due to this new section:

  • 217.7d got streamlined and gained a cross-reference to the "Linked Abilities" rule.
  • 404.5 gained a cross-reference to the "Linked Abilities" rule. In addition, its second example was deleted; errata has eliminated the template discussed in that example.
  • 419.6j is being created to cover some of the same points (but to do so in the "Replacement Effects" section).
  • 502.13b had used the word "linked." Now that "linked abilities" is a rules term, this is being changed to a neutral word.
  • Some of the kicker rules (502.21b-d) are getting rewritten to better express their concepts and reference the "Linked Abilities" section.
  • 502.72b gained a cross-reference.
  • 503.8 was changed. It now specifies that if a copy acquires a pair of linked abilities, they'll still be linked on the copy (and can't refer to any other abilities).
  • 503.8a was added. Until now, 503.8 was the rule that explained how copy effects interacted with cards like Quirion Elves. 503.8a will explain the rule change, and that the old interactions don't work anymore.

410.10f
This rule was edited, and it gained a cross-reference to 217.1c.

411.3a
This rule was deleted. Errata has eliminated the template this rule covered.

413.2c
This rule gained a line about applying continuous effects.

413.2i
This rule got a new line and a new example to cover the bizarre case of a resolving Clone that tries to come into play as a copy of Dryad Arbor while Worms of the Earth is in play. (The result is that the Clone can't come into play due to the Worms, and it can't stay on the stack, so it goes to the graveyard.)

418.5e
This rule was adjusted to better cover cases involving simultaneous timestamps. It hadn't been broad enough; it now covers what happens if multiple Auras, Equipment, or Fortifications move to new objects at the same time.

419.6b, 501.5a, 501.5b
The rules had been inconsistent about what happens if a planeswalker that's being attacked regenerates. Some rules said that it's removed from combat, and some rules said that it isn't. The ruling is that the planeswalker is not removed from combat—only creatures that regenerate are removed from combat. The above rules are being aligned accordingly.

419.6c
This had a typo that's being corrected. ("Planeswalker" was misspelled.)

419.7e
This rule is getting a rewrite.

502.53b
This rule is getting changed to handle the interaction between Paradox Haze and forecast abilities. The forecast ability can still be played only once per turn (as it says on the card), not once per upkeep. Now you must keep the card revealed until a step or phase that isn't an upkeep step begins. In other words, if you play a forecast ability during your first upkeep, you must keep that card revealed through that upkeep and all other upkeeps you may have that turn.

502.81
This rule was added to cover retrace.

503.10
This rule explains that a copy of a spell or ability copies all of its characteristics and all of its decisions (such as targets). It's getting a tweak; previously it specified that it copied decisions made when the spell or ability was played. That wasn't entirely true; if the targets were changed after the spell or ability was played, or if it has targets but was never played (perhaps because the spell or ability is itself a copy), the copy would still copy those.

506.5
This rule had a notation "This is a change from previous rules." After enough time passes, the current rule is the norm and this notation can be eliminated.

Ability Word
Chroma is being added to the list.

Changeling
This had a stray "in" that's being deleted.

Creature Type
Noggle is being added to the list.

Exchange
The first couple of definitions are being edited and clarified.

Forecast
See the note about 502.53b above.

Linked Abilities
An entry for this term is being added.

Mana
The definition covering what mana a permanent "could produce" is being broadened. Specifically, it covers a new ruling regarding, for example, Reflecting Pool and Gaea's Cradle if their controller controls no creatures. Since the Gaea's Cradle would produce no mana if its mana ability resolved at this time, there is no mana it "could produce." Reflecting Pool wouldn't be able to produce this way.

Mana Symbol
For consistency, an "each" is being changed to "all." An erroneous cross-reference is being updated.

Placed
An entry for this term is being added.

Regenerate
See the note about 419.6b, 501.5a, and 501.5b above.

Retrace
An entry for this term is being added.

X
This entry is being edited, expanded, and clarified. This came about because cards like Spoils of War and Bargaining Table weren't adequately covered here. They will be now. While I was working on this section, it got other changes (new section breaks, better word choice).

Back to Intro
Oracle changes

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