July 2009 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on July 8, 2009

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Hi there! I've had a busy month.

The Prerelease for the game-changing core set known as Magic 2010 will be in a couple of days, so my handlers over here have let me out of my padded cell to drop some knowledge on y'all. And believe me, I'm lugging around a truckload of knowledge.

As you may have read, we're implementing some foundation-altering changes to the rules and to the card wordings as a whole. We've changed rules, and terms, that have been around since the dawn of the game ... and things that have just been around for ten years ... and things that have just been around for a couple.

We don't make these kinds of overhauls frequently, and we don't do it lightly. But it's been a decade since the Sixth Edition rules changes, and it was time to take a critical eye to the game from top to bottom. I personally see these changes as a reassuring move. I've spent the past six weeks changing over 4,000 card records in Oracle and rebuilding the Comprehensive Rules from its component parts. These aren't short-term moves—these are moves that make sense only if we're positioning ourselves for another decade (or two, or three ....) of making awesome Magic, and making Magic awesome.

The vast, vast majority of the Oracle changes were terminology changes. I'm very excited about how the cards will read going forward, but (with a few exceptions), they'll all work the same way they always did.

The even bigger changes are to the Comprehensive Rules. This gigantic document (over 150 pages!) got its last huge overhaul ten years ago. Since then, all changes have been patches. Rules have been deleted, modified, or added (and crammed in where they'd best fit), but there's been reluctance to make big changes, especially since that'd mean renumbering (and re-cross-referencing) a whole lot of stuff.

Well, now is the time for change. The document has been completely reorganized. Sections have been moved, merged, deleted, broken out into multiple sections, and/or written from scratch. Everything is renumbered. A lot of things have been streamlined, given some room to breathe, and put into a more intuitive order. The glossary has been imploded—it used to be a repository for redundant information as well as a few secret rules that existed nowhere else; now it's a list of one-line definitions and cross-references. It's a different document.

Of course, the bulk of the content is the same; it's just placed differently. But a number of rules have changed as well, and these are discussed deeper into this article. In addition, there will be a new Basic Rulebook up soon. It's mostly the same as the previous edition, but we've taken the opportunity to make some upgrades there as well.

One last note before we get to the content. When rules change, cards functionally change as a result. Some get better (like Braid of Fire), and some get worse (like Mogg Fanatic). We made the decision this time not to errata any cards to preserve their functionality; they're just going to roll with the punches. This has led us to reexamine our errata policies. In the past, we've issued errata to certain cards so they work as they originally did under an old rules system (rather than working as written under a new rules system), or so they work as intended (rather than working as printed). In some cases, we're confident the change is correct (Armor of Thorns, for example, should not be sacrificed "at end of turn"). In other cases, we think the policy is worth reevaluating. Nothing radical has changed this time out, but over the next few months, we'll be taking another look at the gray areas.

But that's an issue for the future; let's get back to the present. Changes to the Oracle card database will go into effect on Friday, July 10.

Changes to the Comprehensive Rules will also go into effect on Friday, July 10, but the new rulebook is being posted today so you can get an early look. The new Basic Rulebook is also being posted today.

The next Oracle and Comprehensive Rules update would normally occur on September 25 (the day before the Zendikar Prerelease), but there will be an intervening update on September 3 (the day before the Planechase release).

The in-play zone is now the battlefield.

This was the single biggest Oracle change. A lot of cards—no, seriously, a lot of cards—do something when they enter the battlefield, or do something when they leave the battlefield, or enter the battlefield with counters on them, or put a token onto the battlefield, or so on. It stands to reason; the battlefield is the primary game zone. A total of 2,417 cards now say "battlefield" in their Oracle wordings.

There are a number of variations in the wordings. "Put [something] into play" became "Put [something] onto the battlefield." "When [something] comes into play" became "When [something] enters the battlefield." "From play" and "in play" became "from the battlefield" and "on the battlefield," respectively. There are others, but you get the idea.

As part and parcel of this change, sometimes other phrases within a card's wording got juggled around so they'd sound better. Despite this, no functional changes were incurred as a result of this change. All the cards are the same; they just go to a more interestingly named place.

The removed-from-the-game zone is now the exile zone.

The exile zone is a shorter, more accurate name for a zone that was, increasingly, part of the game. And, as a consequence, the instruction to "remove [something] from the game" is now an instruction to "exile [something]." If something referred to the "removed card," it now refers to the "exiled card."

This was another big change, covering 675 cards. Two sets of cards functionally changed as part of this revision: the Wishes, and the imprint cards. The rest work like they always did.

The Wishes didn't change because they got a new template; they changed because the rules changed. Cunning Wish, for example, lets you get an instant card you own from "outside the game." This used to include the removed-from-the-game zone, even though it isn't really outside the game (just ask a suspended Greater Gargadon). With its new name, the zone is obviously inside the game, so a Wish can't get a card from there anymore.

Imprint cards pretty much work like they always did. The only thing that changed is that you can no longer do tricks involving cards like Cytoshape (such as changing a Duplicant into a Mirror Golem, and doing something different involving the "imprinted card"). Each imprint card has an ability that exiles some number of cards, and one that refers to the exiled cards. The second ability now refers only to cards exiled with the first. The cards were already worded in such a way to make those tricks nearly impossible, but now all loopholes have been closed. There's a little more information about imprint in the Comprehensive Rules section of this article.

"Play" is now "cast," "activate," or "play," as appropriate.

For the past ten years, you played a spell, played an activated ability, played a land, and played a card. Not anymore. Now you cast a spell, activate an activated ability, and play a land. However, depending on the context, you may be instructed to cast a card or to play a card.

To cast a card is to cast that card as a spell. This wording is used when the card can only be cast as a spell, and can't be played as a land. For example, Knowledge Exploitation tells you to search your opponent's library for an instant or a sorcery card, then says that you may cast that card.

To play a card is to cast that card as a spell or to play that card as a land, whichever is appropriate. For example, Knacksaw Clique has an opponent exile the top card of his or her library, then says that you may play that card.

Some cards still use "play" when it seems like they should use "cast." For example, Spelljack counters a spell, exiles it, then tells you that you can play the exiled card. This may seem strange—since the exiled card was a spell before, it seems like "cast" is the appropriate word. The reason "play" is used is because Zoetic Cavern exists. As printed, if Spelljack counters a Zoetic Cavern cast as a face-down spell, it lets you play the exiled Zoetic Cavern card (which is a land). So it will continue to do so. Zoetic Cavern and Dryad Arbor (and, to a lesser extent, Ancient Den and its artifact land friends) threw some monkey wrenches into the play/cast/activate divisions. The intent, of course, is to incur no functional changes. Everything should work just as it did before ...

... with one bizarre (and practically impossible) exception. There's a small group of cards that have "enters the battlefield" triggered abilities, but they're supposed to give you the benefit only if you cast the card as a spell (and not if you Zombify it, for example). Coal Stoker used to say "When Coal Stoker comes into play, if you played it from your hand, add to your mana pool." Now it'll say "When Coal Stoker enters the battlefield, if you cast it from your hand, add to your mana pool." Seems fine. The difference is if you manage to play Coal Stoker as a land—the old way would give you , the new way won't. How do you play Coal Stoker as a land? Simple: Have a Coal Stoker already on the battlefield, equip it with Runed Stalactite so it's a Saproling, control Life and Limb so it's also a land, and play Vesuva copying it. Sadly, you'll no longer get any mana in this situation. Just thought you should know.

1,335 cards now say "cast" in Oracle. (This includes a number of uses in reminder text.) 388 cards now say "activate," but that includes cards that already said that (such as "Counter target activated ability").

Abilities that triggered "at end of turn" now trigger "at the beginning of the end step."

Abilities that trigger "at end of turn" have been confusing players for years, since they don't actually trigger at the true end of the turn—they trigger at the beginning of the end step, which is the second-to-last step of the turn. After that, players can still cast instants and activate abilities, then the player whose turn it is discards down to seven cards, then damage is removed from creatures and "until end of turn" effects end. That's a long way off from the end of the turn! Now such abilities will trigger "at the beginning of the end step," which is both more accurate and more in line with "at the beginning of your upkeep" triggers.

The most confusing cards in this vein were the ones that created a delayed triggered ability that triggered "at end of turn." For example, Rakdos Guildmage's second ability was ": Put a 2/1 red Goblin creature token with haste into play. Remove it from the game at end of turn." If you activate this ability during the end step, it's too late for the delayed "at end of turn" ability to trigger that turn, even though it seems like it isn't. These abilities get the same fix, except they also use the word "next." Rakdos Guildmage's second ability now says ": Put a 2/1 red Goblin creature token with haste onto the battlefield. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step." (We didn't come to this conclusion in time for Magic 2010 cards, so a couple of them are missing this "next.")

As part of this change, what used to be known as the "end of turn step" is now the "end step," and the "end phase" is now the "ending phase." A couple of cards reference these, so they've also been changed accordingly. In all, 250 cards now reference the end step (many just in reminder text).

Finally, a number of cards were printed with the reminder text "This effect doesn't end at end of turn." This was meant to imply that the effect has no duration; it lasts for the rest of the game (or until the affected permanent goes away). These now say "This effect lasts indefinitely" in Oracle.

Effects that last "as long as" a condition is met now last "for as long as" that condition is met.

There are two kinds of "as long as" abilities. One was an independent on/off switch (basically, the "as long as" could be replaced by "if"). For example, "Ashenmoor Cohort gets +1/+1 as long as you control another black creature." These weren't changed, though in some cases, the "as long as" clause was moved to the front of the ability for clarity.

In the other kind, "as long as" represents a duration that's set up by an earlier part of the same ability or by the ability's activation cost. That kind of "as long as" effect is true from the moment its ability goes on the stack or starts applying until the "as long as" condition stops being true. For example, Aven Mimeomancer's "At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a feather counter on target creature. If you do, that creature is 3/1 and has flying as long as it has a feather counter on it." All 62 of these changed to say "for as long as" (except for Orcish Squatters, which said "for as long as" all along). Some got sentences rejiggered in the process so they'd sound better.

Nothing functionally changed here. It's a small addition, but it should help make these kinds of abilities clearer.

Lifelink has changed.

As has been previously written about (and is discussed again in the Comprehensive Rules section), lifelink is functionally changing. The 10 cards printed with lifelink reminder text are getting new reminder text in Oracle. The 16 cards printed with the ability "Whenever [this creature] deals damage, you gain that much life" that got errata to have lifelink are being reverted to their printed abilities. (The one exception is Loxodon Warhammer, which has been printed both ways. It was most recently printed with lifelink, so it's keeping that functionality.)

Deathtouch has changed.

Like lifelink, it's functionally changing. The 15 cards printed with deathtouch reminder text are getting new reminder text in Oracle. The two cards (Cruel Deceiver, Venomous Fangs) printed with the ability "Whenever [this creature] deals damage to a creature, destroy that creature" that got errata to have deathtouch are being reverted to their printed abilities.

Reminder text is helpful.

Sometimes, if a block-specific keyword like transmute or suspend has long reminder text, we'll leave that reminder text off of some cards (usually rares) for space reasons. Grozoth, for example, has transmute but no reminder text. When you're busting open Ravnica packs, the odds are that if you've found a Grozoth, you've also got some other transmute cards that explain how the ability works.

A few years down the line, however, that doesn't necessarily hold true. It's much more likely for a player to pick up a random Grozoth without any other Ravnica cards nearby and have absolutely no idea what transmute means. If that player looks up Grozoth in Gatherer, there's still no help. He'd have to do a general transmute search, or dig up the Ravnica FAQ, or (heaven help him) look in the Comprehensive Rules. We can be more helpful than that.

All such missing reminder text has been added to Oracle for the sole purpose of being there in Gatherer when someone looks up a card. Reminder text for phasing, banding (I apologize in advance), horsemanship, and fear has also been added.

In addition, if a card had trample reminder text in Oracle (because it was printed in a core set, most likely), that reminder text has been updated to the M10 reminder text (which references planeswalkers).

This covers 253 cards in all.

Colorless tokens are colorless.

If a spell or ability makes a colored token, it always specifies what color that token is. If a spell or ability makes a colorless token, it specified that the token is colorless only if that token wasn't an artifact. In other words, something that made an artifact creature token made you figure out that it was colorless just by not naming a color.

This is actually fine by the rules. Tokens have only the characteristic values specified for them. If no color is named, the token has no color. But this was a bit of an inconsistent policy, and it wasn't particularly clear (especially with Shards of Alara block cards that made colored artifact creature tokens). The 20 cards that didn't specify that they make colorless tokens will now do so.

Clone has a new template.

Clone has a new, streamlined wording in the M10 set: "You may have Clone enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield." Accordingly, the seven other cards that make use of this wording also will.

Mana burn no longer exists.

Six cards (Upwelling, Mindslaver, and four Kamigawa block Snakes) mentioned mana burn and/or emptying mana pools in their text. Since the rules changed (there is no mana burn, but now mana pools empty at the end of each step and phase, not just at the end of each phase), these changed accordingly.

Substance no longer exists.

Twelve cards (Waylay, Thawing Glaciers, and the ten-card Armor of Thorns cycle) had "at end of turn" triggers back when that truly referred to the very end of the turn. To preserve their functionality (especially because some of them were practically nonsensical if they were sacrificed before damage clears), they were given a wording that allowed their delayed triggered abilities to trigger during the cleanup step (a time when nothing normally triggers). To achieve this, the relevant permanents gained substance (a static ability with no effect) until end of turn, then triggered when they lost substance—because "until end of turn" effects wear off at the same time that damage does.

These cards will now have a more straightforward "at the beginning of the next cleanup step" trigger, and the rules have been adjusted accordingly. Note that this new wording is somewhat misleading, since it's not the first thing that happens in the cleanup step (just like "at the beginning of your draw step" triggers aren't the first thing that happen during your draw step—you draw a card first). In the cleanup step, the player whose turn it is will discard down to seven cards, then "until end of turn" effects will end and damage will be cleared, then these abilities will trigger.

Assassin's Blade and friends haven't been accounting for planeswalkers.

A number of combat tricks from the Portal sets were printed with the restriction "Play [this card] only after you're attacked, before you declare [blockers/interceptors]." They had the Oracle wording "Play [this card] only during the declare attackers step and only if you are the defending player." But these two wordings aren't the same, because planeswalkers exist.

If one or more creatures attack your planeswalkers, but none attack you, then you're still the defending player—but you haven't been attacked. According to the printed wordings of these cards, you shouldn't be able to cast them. Thus, they're changing to say "Cast [this card] only during the declare attackers step and only if you've been attacked this step." This affects 14 instants and the activated ability of Kongming's Contraptions. (Blessed Reversal dodges this change because it was reprinted in a few other sets with a different wording.)

Cards that referred to the top cards of graveyards didn't all say "of."

Most cards that refer to the top of something (either a graveyard or a library) use "of": "Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order," for example. Some cards that dealt with the graveyard didn't follow suit, because they adhered to other conventions (like "returning" the top card "from" your graveyard to the battlefield). All cards that deal with the top of something will now use "of" in Oracle. This affected six cards.

Specific Card Changes

And in the midst of all this global change, there's still time to poke at individual cards.

Dragon Whelp
Dragon Whelp's delayed triggered ability is confusing. It currently says "At end of turn, if this ability has been played four or more times this turn, sacrifice Dragon Whelp." Let's say you activate the ability during the end step. The delayed triggered ability will trigger at the beginning of the next turn's end step. So which turn does the "this turn" in its ability refer to? The turn when you activated the ability, or the turn when the delayed triggered ability triggers? This ambiguity is being cleared up by moving around the parts of the sentence, which has two ramifications: 1) If the fourth time you activate the ability is during the end step, Dragon Whelpwill be sacrificed next turn, and 2) Under the old wording, if you activated the ability five times, you'd need five Stifles to save Dragon Whelp; now, you'd need only two (one for the fourth time and one for the fifth time, assuming you let each ability resolve before you activated it again). Both of these are corner cases, but I heard a rumor Dragon Whelp is in Magic 2010 and didn't get the new wording in time. Nalathni Dragon, Farrelite Priest, and Initiates of the Ebon Hand are getting the same treatment.

New Dragon Whelp wording;
Flying
{R}: Dragon Whelp gets +1/+0 until end of turn. If this ability has been activated four or more times this turn, sacrifice Dragon Whelp at the beginning of the next end step.

Æther Rift
As printed, Æther Rift's ability had you discard a card before putting it onto the battlefield. The Oracle wording does not. This got errata when the Torment set was printed to solve some interaction problems with madness, but I think some streamlining of the madness rules in the intervening years, and the new Æther Rift wording, should make things okay.

New wording;
At the beginning of your upkeep, discard a card at random from your hand. If you discard a creature card this way, return it from your graveyard to the battlefield unless any player pays 5 life.

Bifurcate
As printed, Bifurcate targeted a "card," so it shouldn't be able to target a token. Also, as printed, it didn't necessitate finding a creature card (in case you targeted an animated land, for example).

New wording;
Search your library for a permanent card with the same name as target nontoken creature and put that card onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

Brutal Suppression
As printed, this affected "Rebel cards," so it shouldn't affect tokens.

New wording;
Activated abilities of nontoken Rebels cost an additional "Sacrifice a land" to activate.

Cold Storage
The printed wording of the second ability's effect says "Put all creature cards on Cold Storage into play." Taking that at face value, the player who activates that ability does all the putting, meaning that player controls all the returned permanents. But an old ruling says that's not the case; each card is returned under its owner's control. Since that's not inferable from the card, that ruling is being reversed, and Cold Storage will now specify that the ability's controller gets all the permanents.

New wording;
{3}: Exile target creature you control.
Sacrifice Cold Storage: Return each creature card exiled with Cold Storage to the battlefield under your control.

Cyclone
While this card's printed ability is very similar to cumulative upkeep, it really isn't the same. The ability is being un-keyworded.

New wording;
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a wind counter on Cyclone, then sacrifice Cyclone unless you pay {G} for each wind counter on it. If you pay, Cyclone deals damage equal to the number of wind counters on it to each creature and each player.

Dralnu's Pet
Like Pouncing Kavu, this should say that Dralnu's Pet enters the battlefield with flying, not that it has flying.

New wording;
Kicker—{2B}, Discard a creature card. (You may pay {2B} and discard a creature card in addition to any other costs as you cast this spell.)
If the kicker cost was paid, Dralnu's Pet enters the battlefield with flying and with X +1/+1 counters on it, where X is the discarded card's converted mana cost.

Ill-Gotten Gains & Time Spiral
As printed, the spell is exiled first, then the rest of it happens. Oracle differs from this, but doesn't have to. (The Comprehensive Rules will specify that once a spell starts to resolve, it resolves fully even if it leaves the stack.)

New Ill-Gotten Gains wording:
Exile Ill-Gotten Gains. Each player discards his or her hand, then returns up to three cards from his or her graveyard to his or her hand.

New Time Spiral wording:
Exile Time Spiral. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.

Imprison
As printed, Imprison was destroyed, not sacrificed. Also, its last ability needs the same wording update that Balduvian Warlord got in the last update.

New wording;
Enchant creature
Whenever a player activates an ability of enchanted creature with {T} in its activation cost that isn't a mana ability, you may pay {1}. If you do, counter that ability. If you don't, destroy Imprison.
Whenever enchanted creature attacks or blocks, you may pay {1}. If you do, tap the creature and remove it from combat. Creatures it was blocking that hadn't become blocked by another creature this combat become unblocked. If you don't pay {1}, destroy Imprison.

Maddening Imp
The printed text had a restriction that said its ability had to be activated "before combat." In a recent update, we cleaned up a bunch of activation restrictions, boiling them down to a few consistent templates. Maddening Imp went along for the ride, but it shouldn't have. So its restriction is being changed again to get it back to the way it was printed.

New wording;
Flying
{T}: Each non-Wall creature the active player controls attacks this turn if able. At the beginning of the next end step, destroy each of those creatures that didn't attack this turn. Activate this ability only during an opponent's turn, before the combat phase.

Oath of Lieges
We recently decided for Krosan Tusker and similar cards that if you choose not to search, you don't have to shuffle. This is the same deal.

New wording;
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, if that player controls fewer lands than any of his or her opponents, the player may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield, then shuffle his or her library.

Phyrexian Purge
As printed, this had an additional cost of "Pay 3 life" that you could pay any number of times, which influenced how many targets you could choose. But at some point, the life payment was moved to the resolution. A short time ago, as many similar cards as possible were reverted back to having additional costs (like Withering Boon, for example), but we didn't have the technology to do this cleanly with Phyrexian Purge because its additional cost could be paid multiple times and ties in to the number of targets. But then we came up with a new treatment for the M10 Fireball, which increases its cost without creating an additional cost. (For practical purposes, this is largely irrelevant; however, for technical rules purposes, it makes a big difference due to when this cost is determined while casting the spell.) Phyrexian Purge can get the same treatment, moving its life payment back into the casting of the spell, not its resolution.

New wording;
Destroy any number of target creatures.
Phyrexian Purge costs 3 life more to cast for each target.

Portcullis
As printed, Portcullis had just one ability. It triggered when a creature entered the battlefield, exiled that creature (maybe), then set up a delayed triggered ability that would return that creature to the battlefield when Portcullis left. Its Oracle wording, however, is two separate abilities. Right now, a single Stifle will counter the entire leaves-the-battlefield ability and none of the cards will come back. It's going back to setting up a number of different delayed triggered abilities, meaning a single Stifle will stop just one card from coming back.

New wording;
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, if there are two or more other creatures on the battlefield, exile that creature. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control when Portcullis leaves the battlefield.

Psychic Allergy
As printed, Psychic Allergy was destroyed, not sacrificed. Also, it should count nontoken permanents, not cards.

New wording;
As Psychic Allergy enters the battlefield, choose a color.
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, Psychic Allergy deals X damage to that player, where X is the number of nontoken permanents of the chosen color he or she controls.
At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy Psychic Allergy unless you sacrifice two Islands.

Rasputin Dreamweaver
Rasputin's printed wording was one big block of very tiny text. There were no line breaks at all to indicate different abilities. Its Oracle wording is split into four abilities, but we think it should actually be five: The final line should be an independent ability that refers to Rasputin as a whole, not just its fourth ability.

New wording;
Rasputin Dreamweaver enters the battlefield with seven dream counters on it.
Remove a dream counter from Rasputin: Add {1} to your mana pool.
Remove a dream counter from Rasputin: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to Rasputin this turn.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if Rasputin started the turn untapped, put a dream counter on it.
Rasputin can't have more than seven dream counters on it.

Rocket Launcher
As printed, Rocket Launcher was destroyed, not sacrificed. That's being reinstated. Its last sentence is also getting some words rearranged to read better.

New wording;
{2}: Rocket Launcher deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Destroy Rocket Launcher at the beginning of the next end step. Activate this ability only if you've controlled Rocket Launcher continuously since the beginning of your most recent turn.

Search for Survivors
As printed, the graveyard rearrangement happens first. This could make a difference with some corner cases (involving Volrath's Shapeshifter, for example), so that's being restored.

New wording;
Reorder your graveyard at random. An opponent chooses a card at random in your graveyard. If it's a creature card, put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise, exile it.

Wall of Nets
The second ability is ambiguous: Does it refer to creatures Wall of Nets blocked during that combat (even if it's not blocking them now), or does it refer only to creatures Wall of Nets is still blocking as the ability resolves? It's being clarified as the former. Also, the third ability should return cards to the battlefield.

New wording;
Defender (This creature can't attack.)
At end of combat, exile all creatures Wall of Nets blocked this combat.
When Wall of Nets leaves the battlefield, return all creature cards exiled with Wall of Nets to the battlefield under their owners' control.

Ydwen Efreet
The Oracle wording preemptively caused Ydwen Efreet to be unable to block, but only if you were being attacked. The ability should work even if your planeswalker is being attacked, and it should ideally work after Ydwen Efreet blocks.

New wording;
Whenever Ydwen Efreet blocks, flip a coin. If you lose the flip, remove Ydwen Efreet from combat. Creatures it was blocking that hadn't become blocked by another creature this combat become unblocked.

Nonfunctional changes

It seems a bit silly to call out nitpicky wording changes on individual cards when over 4,000 of them got wording changes. But I know some of you are curious, so I'll do a quick rundown of the extras. A number of additional wording changes related to implementing "battlefield," "cast," or "exile" wordings (such as changing "in" to "from," or deleting "on the battlefield" entirely, or the like) haven't been called out here.

Antagonism, Discordant Spirit, Impatience, Keldon Twilight, Scavenging Ghoul — "That turn" was changed to "this turn."

Arboria — "Card" changed to "nontoken permanent," and the ability was reworded to be easier to understand.

Aspect of Wolf, Mangara's Equity, Primordial Ooze, Pygmy Hippo — These were the only cards that said "where X is equal to [something]" rather than just saying "where X is [something]." Mangara's Equity was reworded to get rid of the X entirely; the rest had "equal to" deleted. Also, Primordial Ooze had a "Do A or do B" wording, which doesn't really exist anymore; now it's "You may do A. If you don't, do B."

Basal Thrull — This was missing some curly brackets around its mana symbols.

Beasts of Bogardan — "Any" changed to "an."

Bogardan Phoenix — This returns to the battlefield under the control of the last player who controlled it, not necessarily its owner. We're adding "under your control" so it's clearer.

Cephalid Illusionist — Reworded to match Soratami Cloud Chariot.

Confusion in the Ranks — Changed "shares a type" to "shares a card type."

Contested Cliffs, Triangle of War — "Each creature" changed to "Each of those creatures" to match Arena.

Corpse Dance — Changed "the creature" to "it" to match Shallow Grave.

Culling Scales — Some unnecessary words were deleted so it more closely matches Topple and Porphyry Nodes, among others.

Cycle of Life; Jolrael, Empress of Beasts; Life // Death; Natural Affinity — "Are" changed to "become" in the first three. "Until end of turn" was moved later in the ability in the last three; they wound up with different (but standard) land-animating wordings.

Defiant Stand; Zhao Zilong, Tiger General — "Until the end of the turn" was changed to "until end of turn."

Dream Leash — The odd second ability was changed to "You can't choose an untapped permanent as Dream Leash's target as you cast Dream Leash."

Endless Whispers — An unnecessary "from the battlefield" was deleted. The last sentence was cleaned up a bit, including changing "creature card" to "card" and "puts" to "returns."

Exiled Doomsayer — "Creatures" changed to "creature spells" in its reminder text.

Flailing Drake, Goblin Swine-Rider, Sacred Prey, and Serra Inquisitors — "When" changed to "Whenever." Also, some words were trimmed from Goblin Swine-Rider; now it deals "2 damage to each attacking creature and each blocking creature."

Frankenstein's Monster — "On it" was added to the end of the ability.

Gamekeeper; Iname, Life Aspect; Rooting Kavu — "You may exile [name of this card]" was changed to "you may exile it." This matches Iname as One and Academy Rector.

Gleancrawler, No Rest for the Wicked, Second Sunrise, Twilight Shepherd— These cards all do similar things, so their templates are getting synched up.

Goblin Recruiter — Reworded to match Dwarven Recruiter.

Holistic Wisdom — "Type" was changed to "card type," and its reminder text was restored.

Illusionary Terrain — An extraneous "of" was deleted.

Ixidron — An unnecessary instance of "on the battlefield" was deleted. "They're 2/2 creatures" became reminder text, since the rule that governed that effect was moved out of the morph section and into the general "Face-Down Spells and Permanents" section.

Kangee, Aerie Keeper; Kyren Toy; Ventifact Bottle — The order of some mana symbols changed. ({X} should come first.) Ventifact Bottle's second ability was reworded to remove its X; having X mean different things on the same card is unnecessarily confusing.

Lost in Thought, Volrath's Curse — "Ignore this ability" was changed to "ignore this effect," as seen on Damping Matrix and Siren's Call.

Mangara's Blessing — An unnecessary "from your hand" was deleted.

Mangara's Tome — Reworded to match Parallel Thoughts.

Martyr's Cry — The redundant word "white" was deleted from the second ability.

Mercurial Kite & Vertigo Spawn — "It" is being changed to "That creature" to match other similar cards and be extra clear about what doesn't untap.

Mirror Strike — This is being reworded as a more standard redirection effect.

Mtenda Griffin, Soul Manipulation — "In your graveyard" changed to "from your graveyard."

Murmurs from Beyond, Purging Scythe — "Of them" was added after "An opponent chooses" and "You choose," respectively.

Ogre Enforcer — This was revised in the last update, but it wasn't entirely clear. It's getting some new vocabulary that's being introduced in the Comprehensive Rules.

Phyrexian Processor — Now makes an X/X token, where X is equal to the life paid as Phyrexian Processor entered the battlefield.

Planeshift "Planeswalker's" enchantments — "In his or her hand" changed to "from his or her hand."

Remembrance — "Creature card" became "card," since you can wind up searching for a noncreature card if an animated land goes to your graveyard, for example.

Siren's Call — The casting restriction was changed to "Cast Siren's Call only during an opponent's turn, before attackers are declared" to match other similar cards.

Skyshroud Condor — Reworded to match Talara's Battalion.

Stasis Cocoon — The second and third ability were fused into a single ability (like on Faith's Fetters).

Surge of Strength — "Its" was changed to "that creature's" so it's clearer that it's referring to the targeted creature, not the card discarded as an additional cost.

Swirl the Mists — Since its ability creates a text-changing effect, its wording was adjusted to include the words "text" and "changed."

Thousand-Year Elixir — An unnecessary "the" was deleted.

Thrumming Stone — "Control" is being changed to "cast" to match Djinn Illuminatus, Maelstrom Nexus, and the like. There's a theoretical functional difference (you can control a spell you don't cast), but since ripple works only on spells you cast, there's no practical difference.

Tidal Control — The last two abilities (which are identical except for their costs) were fused into a single ability with a choice of two costs. This matches how it was printed.

Touch of Vitae — This had a very awkward wording, with a period in the middle of a sentence. "Until end of turn" was moved to the beginning of the first ability to smooth it out.

Traveler's Cloak — The order of abilities was changed; it now matches Pentarch Ward.

Varchild's War-Riders — A comma was changed to a semicolon. (Some cards that got reminder text added to them got the same change.)

Verdant Embrace — We took "under your control" off Verdant Force in the last update. This is following suit.

Word of Command — "Use" changed to "spend," and "drawn from" changed to "produced by."

In this section, I normally talk about tweaks to individual rules, or a rule that's been added somewhere within the rulebook, or the like. I can't do that today, because everything has changed. To give you an idea, the old rulebook had section 404, "Triggered Abilities," and section 412, "Handling Triggered Abilities." That content has been merged into the new rulebook's section 603, "Handling Triggered Abilities," but some of that information now appears in section 112, "Abilities." In addition to the reorganization, a ton of stuff has been rewritten for clarity. Plus, rules that were previously hidden within the glossary (like what a "pile" is, or what the list of supertypes are) have been moved into the main rules.

So, rather than describe what rulebook bits have changed, I'm going to present the basic new rulebook structure, then jump right into what terms and rules have changed. Note that more rules have changed than just the ones listed in the June 10 article that Aaron and I wrote.

Overall Comprehensive Rulebook structure:

Section 1: Game Concepts
Section 2: Parts of a Card
Section 3: Card Types
Section 4: Zones
Section 5: Turn Structure
Section 6: Spells, Abilities, and Effects
Section 7: Additional Rules
Section 8: Multiplayer Rules
Glossary

Now for some new terminology:

Battlefield — The new name of the in-play zone.

Exile — The new name of the removed-from-the-game zone. Also, to exile something is to move it to this zone.

Cast — To put a spell on the stack and pay its costs so it will eventually resolve.

Activate — To put an activated ability on the stack and pay its costs so it will eventually resolve.

Ending phase — The new name for the end phase.

End step — The new name for the end of turn step.

Damage assignment order — The order, announced during the declare blockers step, that an attacking creature will assign its combat damage among the multiple creatures blocking it, or that a blocking creature will assign its combat damage among the multiple creatures it's blocking.

State-based actions — This is the new name for state-based effects. (They're not really effects.)

Turn-based actions — This is the new name for game actions (such as drawing a card at the start of your draw step).

Spell abilities — The instructions you follow when an instant or sorcery spell is resolving. For example, "Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player" is a spell ability.

Marked — Past rules said that damage dealt to a creature is "on" that creature. This could be more descriptive, more active, and more named after me. So now that damage is "marked on" that creature. Marked damage clears when a creature regenerates and during the cleanup step; the lethal damage rule checks the total damage marked on a creature.

And now notes on rules that have changed.

101.4d
This is an addition to the APNAP (Active Player, Next Active Player) order rule. If something is being processed using APNAP order, and a player who's already been handled is given a new choice to make, that player makes that choice next. (APNAP order is restarted for the outstanding choices.)

103.4
This is the new mulligan rule. Mulligans are now taken in rounds, essentially. In turn order, everyone announces whether or not they're going to take a mulligan, then everyone who said "yes" does so at the same time. Then the people who took mulligans repeat the process. If you've got a Serum Powder in your hand, you use it at the time you would say "yes" or "no," then you say "yes" or "no" once you've got your new hand.

104.3i
The section on losing the game now states that a game loss may be awarded by a judge at a tournament. The rule added to cover Blood Tyrant already referred to this; now it's placed where it belongs."

104.4c
This rule states that effects may cause the game to end in a draw. Rules already existed for cards like Coalition Victory and Phage the Untouchable, but not Celestial Convergence or Divine Intervention.

106
This is a new section about mana. The most notable item is what's not here: mana burn. Each player's mana pool is now cleared at the end of each step and each phase (as opposed to just the end of each phase), but this no longer causes life loss. Additionally, each time a player passes priority or spends mana, if any mana remains in that player's mana pool, he or she must announce what mana is still there.

107.3b
This rule about X has been clarified. The upshot is that if you cast Bond of Agony without paying its mana cost (as a result of cascade, for example), X must be 0.

110.5a
This rule about tokens specifies that a token's owner is the player under whose control it enters the battlefield.

118
This is a new section about damage. For years, damage was a pretty simple concept: It was dealt to players or creatures, and it always did the same thing to a player or to a creature. But then we introduced planeswalkers. And wither. And now lifelink has changed so that the life gain is an additional result of damage. The two most important bits here are rule 118.3, which covers the different results damage may have, and rule 118.4, which details how damage is processed now. That process goes like this:

1) Damage is dealt, as modified by replacement and prevention effects that interact with damage. Abilities that trigger when damage is dealt trigger now and wait to be put on the stack.
2) Damage that's been dealt is transformed into its results, as modified by replacement effects that interact with those results (such as life loss or counters).
3) The damage event occurs.

So let's say a 2/2 with lifelink is attacking a player and isn't blocked, the attacking player also controls Boon Reflection, and the defending player activates Samite Healer's ability targeting him- or herself. The process looks like this:

[2 damage is dealt to defending player]
Samite Healer's prevention effect is applied.
[1 damage is dealt to defending player]
The damage is transformed into its results.
[Defending player loses 1 life, attacking player gains 1 life]
Boon Reflection's replacement effect is applied.
[Defending player loses 1 life, attacking player gains 2 life]
The damage event occurs. All results are simultaneous.

207.2b
This rule was added to the section about *'s within the Power/Toughness section. Previously this section acknowledged only characteristic-defining abilities (like Maro has). This new rule acknowledges certain kinds of replacement abilities that set power and toughness (like Aquamorph Entity has).

400.9
This rule states that a card is outside the game if it isn't in any of the game's zones. Previously, a card in the removed-from-the-game zone was outside the game too, but that's no longer the case for cards in this zone (now called the exile zone).

509
This is the section for the declare blockers step. It details the procedure by which players announce the damage assignment orders for their creatures that have been blocked by multiple creatures, or are blocking multiple creatures.

510
This is the section for the combat damage step. Most importantly, combat damage no longer uses the stack. It isn't an object, and it doesn't resolve—it's simply dealt, all at once, after it's all been assigned. This section also describes how to assign combat damage within a damage assignment order. (A shorthand way to think about this is that each creature basically has "trample for creatures.")

510.5
This rule, which covers first strike and double strike, previously had a loophole that would've allowed a 0-power creature with first strike to deal its combat damage in the second combat damage step if its power were increased (by Giant Growth, for example) after combat damage was assigned and dealt in the first combat damage step. That's no longer the case.

514.3a
This rule within the section on the cleanup step allows for the possibility of abilities that trigger "at the beginning of the next cleanup step." See "Substance" below, and in the "Sweeping Card Changes" section, for more information.

606.1a
This is an addendum to the general "linked abilities" rule. It's basically there to cover Animate Dead and its ilk. Animate Dead's primary ability grants it an ability, and those two abilities are linked.

607.2g
This rule, about when and how resolving spells and abilities can determine information from the game, got some clarifications to better handle illegal targets and damage that's divided—but not divided by a player's choice.

607.2j
This rule is being added to specify that once a spell or ability starts to legally resolve, it will resolve fully even if it leaves the stack during that time.

610.2b
This rule is about effects with durations worded "for as long as ...". The important change is that these durations used to just be worded "as long as ...", which made them easy to confuse with "as long as" effects from static abilities.

612.1
This rule describes the layers in which continuous effects are applied. They have changed; the old layer 5 (which was a catchall layer) has been broken out into two different layers.

Layer 1: Copy effects are applied.
Layer 2: Control-changing effects are applied.
Layer 3: Text-changing effects are applied.
Layer 4: Type-changing effects are applied. This includes effects that change an object's card type, subtype, and/or supertype.
Layer 5: Color-changing effects are applied.
Layer 6: Ability-adding and ability-removing effects are applied.
Layer 7: Power- and/or toughness-changing effects are applied

Now color-changing effects happen before effects that add or remove abilities. This changes some Snakeform interactions, for example. It also changes how Painter's Servant interacts with effects that cause it to lose all abilities.

612.3
This rule describes the sublayers in which power- and toughness-changing effects are applied. They have also changed.

Layer 7a: Effects from characteristic-defining abilities are applied.
Layer 7b: Effects that set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value are applied.
Layer 7c: Effects that modify power and/or toughness (but don't set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value) are applied.
Layer 7d: Power and/or toughness changes from counters are applied.
Layer 7e: Effects that switch a creature's power and toughness are applied.

For example, this changes how the effect of Sorceress Queen's ability interacts with Giant Growth, for example. Under the old system, it mattered which order they resolved. Now, the effect of Sorceress Queen's ability is always applied first.

613.14
The rule about self-replacement effects is clearer about how they're different than other replacement effects; it specifies that they're not continuous effects.

614.11
This rule was added to govern how prevention effects interact with unpreventable damage.

700
This general section wound up being the home for a few topics that used to live in the glossary, but nowhere else. Now rules can be found here that cover piles, indestructible permanents, unblockable creatures, what an event is, and how modal spells and abilities work,.

701
A number of new keyword actions were added to this section: activate, cast, discard, exchange, exile, play, reveal, and search.

702
This is the keyword abilities section (formerly section 502). It's been completely reorganized. All the "evergreen keywords" (keywords that appear in every set) have been moved to the front and alphabetized; they're rules 702.2 through 702.18. Then all other keywords are listed in chronological order based on the set they first appeared in. If multiple keywords premiered in the same set, they're listed in alphabetical order.

702.2
This is deathtouch, which is now a static ability. A player assigning combat damage from a creature with deathtouch can divide that damage as he or she chooses among any number of creatures blocking or blocked by it, which is an exception to the new combat damage rules. Also, a creature that's been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time state-based actions were checked is destroyed as a state-based action.

702.11
This is intimidate, an evergreen keyword that doesn't quite exist yet. A creature with intimidate can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it. It's coming soon, so rather than renumber everything in a few months, it was added in early. (It essentially takes the place of fear, which will remain in place but won't appear on new cards.)

702.13
This is lifelink, which is now a static ability. Damage dealt by a source with lifelink causes that source's controller, or its owner if it has no controller, to gain that much life (in addition to any other results that damage causes).

702.19
This is banding and "bands with other." The notable thing about banding is that it has not changed, even though the combat damage rules changed around it. During the combat damage step, if a creature is blocking a creature with banding, the active player (rather than the defending player) chooses how the blocking creature's damage is assigned. That player can divide that creature's combat damage as he or she chooses among any number of creatures it's blocking, which is an exception to the new combat damage rules. The same procedure applies for attacking creatures with banding.

The notable thing about "bands with other" is that we've thrown out the little rules card that came in Legends boosters and revised the ability to work in a vastly more intuitive manner, simply based on its wording. Now a Wolf with "bands with other Wolves" can form an attacking band with any number of other Wolves. During the combat damage step, if a creature is blocking both a Wolf with "bands with other Wolves" and another Wolf, the active player (rather than the defending player) chooses how the blocking creature's damage is assigned, using the same rules as banding. The same goes while attacking.

702.23
This is phasing, which has radically changed. Under the old rules, phasing caused a permanent to change zones—it moved from the battlefield to the phased-out zone, then back. But then the rest of the phasing rules backtracked, explaining why not to treat this as a zone change: It didn't cause zone-change triggers to trigger, the permanent didn't lose Auras or counters, face-down creatures stayed face-down while phased out, the permanent remembered whether it was tapped or untapped, creatures that phased in were treated as though they had haste, and so on. I never thought the zone-change model was accurate. My model for a phased-out permanent was simply to put my hand over it during a game, not to move it elsewhere. The game continued on around it, but it had become invisible. Thus the new functionality:

Except for rules and effects that specifically mention phased-out permanents, a phased-out permanent is treated as though it does not exist. It can't affect or be affected by anything else in the game.

On the whole, this works pretty much the same. Permanents still phase in and out when they always did. Auras and Equipment attached to a permanent that phases out also phases out indirectly. Counters stay. Zone-change triggers don't trigger. Phased-out tokens cease to exist. It's just a cleaner, more accurate representation of the ability.

There are some functional changes, though. Effects that check a phased-in permanent's history won't treat the phasing event as having caused the permanent to leave or enter the battlefield or its controller's control. This means a creature that phases in won't have summoning sickness, which is correct. But it also means that if a creature with echo phases in, you won't have to pay echo just because it phased in. (The regular echo condition still applies, though.) I also think this is correct, but it's different than it's worked before.

Another change is that if a continuous effect with a limited duration affects a permanent that phases out, the effect won't automatically end. The effect will just expire as normal (for example, if it lasts "until end of turn," it'll probably expire while the permanent is phased out). If a "for as long as" effect tracks something about that permanent (like "for as long as Callous Oppressor remains tapped"), it'll end when the permanent phases out because it'll lose track of it so it can't verify that its condition remains true. But other continuous effects will happily continue, blithely unaware that the permanent they're hovering over has ceased to exist for a while. The same is true for delayed triggered abilities (though, of course, if they trigger while the permanent they want to affect is phased out, they won't do anything).

Finally, damage marked on a permanent isn't automatically cleared when that permanent phases out. It'll most likely clear at the normal time during the cleanup step before the permanent phases back in, though.

What's missing: Imprint
Imprint is no longer a keyword ability. It never really was; "the imprinted card" always just meant "the removed card." Imprint was used on Mirrodin cards because "removed from the game" was long and clunky, and these cards were begging for a cool, succinct word to crystallize their functionality. But now we have "exile" for that job. The imprint cards have been reworded in Oracle so that "imprint" is an ability word (like hellbent). There are some corner-case functional changes as a result; see the "Sweeping Card Changes" section for more information.

What's missing: Substance
Substance no longer exists. It was invented to handle a handful of cards that really wanted to work the way they did under pre-Sixth Edition rules. Now that's being done with an "at the beginning of the next cleanup step" trigger. See the "Sweeping Card Changes" section for more information.

704.3
This is the rule about when state-based actions are checked. It's been reworded to clarify that if the conditions for a state-based action exists, but that state-based action can't be performed (for example, if an indestructible creature has lethal damage marked on it), that state-based action isn't checked again even though the conditions for it still exist.

704.5h
This is in the midst of the list of state-based actions. They've been reorganized, grouping similar ones together, and progressing from the big ones (players losing) through putting permanents into the graveyard, down to removing counters. Anyway, this is the new one that handles deathtouch: "If a creature has been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time state-based actions were checked, that creature is destroyed. Regeneration can replace this event." Note that this checks whether damage was dealt, not whether damage was marked on the creature. That means it'll work if a creature was dealt damage by a source with wither and deathtouch.

706.2 & 706.2a
Now we're in the copy section. There's always been a weird discrepancy in the copy rules. A copy of an object acquired all of that object's characteristics, which includes rules text and abilities. But rules text generates abilities. So did the copy have two sets of abilities: The set that it copied directly, and the set generated by the rules text it copied? Of course not, but the rules implied that you could come to that conclusion. These rules now state that a copy of an object acquires the copiable values derived from that object's text (as modified by other copy effects, certain replacement effects, and face-downness), and that the text generates its characteristics.

707.2a
This is the rule that explains what happens if a face-up permanent is turned face down. It was moved here from the morph section, because it should apply to Ixidron's ability. That has resulted in part of Ixidron's ability becoming reminder text.

713
This section, entitled "Shortcuts," is an overhaul of the (very fuzzy) section known as "Handling 'Infinite' Loops." Don't worry, it's still pretty fuzzy, but it should be more sensible now.

806.6a
This is the rule about Two-Headed Giant mulligans; it got the same change in principle as the two-player game did.

806.7e & 806.7f
Rules about damage assignment order and combat damage in Two-Headed Giant games.

806.9d
This rule was created to regulate what happens if both teammates in a Two-Headed Giant game get the option to pay life at the same time.

807.6a
This rule in the Emperor section gives more details about how to set up a game with more than two teams and/or more than three players on each team.

Latest Feature Articles

FEATURE

In-Store Play Evolves by, Chris Tulach

In-store play is one of the best ways to foster community among Magic players, to meet new friends, and to experience everything the game has to offer. Over the past year we've been rampi...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page or by clicking Yes, you are giving your consent for us to set cookies. (Learn more about cookies)

No, I want to find out more