Late September 2009 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on September 30, 2009

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Hi folks! I hope everyone had a great time at the Zendikar Prereleases last weekend, and will have a great time at the Zendikar Launch Parties this weekend. My secret volcano lair has been showered with balloons and get well cards due to my recent bout with swine flu. Of course, most of them are from my enemies and have the inconvenient tendency to explode, but attention is attention. I'm mostly recovered except for the corkscrew tail. (It's not even fair that I got swine flu. I'm a vegetarian!)

Now that I'm back at work, I'm completing the slightly delayed Oracle and Comprehensive Rulebook updates. The biggest additions this time out are the expansion of the Casual Variants section of the Comp Rules. This section was created to cover the Planar Magic (i.e., Planechase) rules. Well, as long as we've got a whole section dedicated to casual variants, we may as well put some stuff in it—the Planar Magic rules would get lonely otherwise. This update features rules for Vanguard and Elder Dragon Highlander.

The creation of Comp Rules rules for Vanguard also means that we're putting the vanguard cards into Gatherer for the first time. This includes both the physical oversized cards printed back in Tempest block and Urza block, and the (wacky) Magic Online avatars that double as vanguard cards. Like "plane," "vanguard" is a new card type, and like plane cards, they're nontraditional cards that can exist only in the command zone. These are cards we printed and a format we support, so it's fitting that they're getting an official treatment.

Elder Dragon Highlander is a bit of a different story. The inclusion of EDH rules in the Comprehensive Rulebook does not mean that I (or Wizards of the Coast) is taking over the format. The EDH rules will continue to be managed by the independent EDH Rules Committee, which I believe is the same shadowy cabal that rigs the Oscars. I'll just be following along with whatever they're doing. The reasons I'm putting an EDH section into the Comp Rules are that it's a centralized place where players can access the rules for this popular format, and that EDH tournaments have been running at events like Gen Con (so having official rules in an official document seems like a good idea).

Other notable items are the elimination of the power-level errata on the Parallax cards, the reversion of the Flagbearers to their original functionality, and insane new wordings for the Exodus Keeper cycle and Oath cycle. (Exodus is the next Legacy set slated for Magic Online release, so it got a lot of attention this time around.)

The Oracle updates will go live on Friday, October 2. The new Comprehensive Rulebook will be up as soon as it's gone through Editing and a review process, but the schedules are still a bit discombobulated so I can't be more specific. Note that changes to the Rulebook may wind up a bit different than what's posted here due to those processes.

It's been a busy few months, what with the massive Magic 2010 overhauls, quickly followed by the Planechase updates, quickly followed by the Zendikar updates. Oracle and the Comp Rules will be taking a much-needed nap for a while (as will I, I think), since the next update won't be until late January. Whew!


Vanguard Cards

As stated, all 32 physical vanguard cards and all 74 digital vanguard cards are being entered into Oracle (and thus Gatherer). Nearly all of the physical cards are getting template updates to their modern template equivalents, but this is pretty straightforward stuff in just about all cases. (Unlike the crazy Magic Online vanguard cards, the physical ones had relatively simple abilities.) Note that although the printed cards had the word "character" on their type lines, we've decided that "vanguard" is the more appropriate card type.

We're also renaming the characteristics that appear only on vanguard cards. These are the modifiers that adjust your starting and maximum hand size and your starting life total. On the printed cards, these were called "Starting & Max. Hand Size" and "Starting Life," respectively. This is entirely inaccurate! Let's take the latter characteristic. It's a number with an operator that's applied to your starting life total, like "-1" or "+3." To be accurately described as the "starting life," it'd be a straight-up number like "19" or "23" instead. For that reason, these will be called "hand modifier" and "life modifer," respectively.

The Online vanguard cards are all getting a name change. Their names had followed the format "Avatar – Name," as in "Avatar – Akroma, Angel of Wrath." The hyphen is being removed and the word "Avatar" is going to the end: "Akroma, Angel of Wrath Avatar." An oddity about these cards is that "avatar" is clearly the correct term for them in the digital game context, but the wrong term for them in a Magic context (since Avatar is a creature type, and these are not that type and not even creatures). The correctness overrode the incorrectness, so "Avatar" remains in their names.

A couple of the Online cards are getting minor, nonfunctional changes to their wordings. The ones that reference themselves by name (such as Stuffy Doll Avatar) had done so by using the shortened form of their names (in this case, just "Stuffy Doll"). The word "Avatar" has been added in so it's clear that they reference themselves, not the cards on which they're based. The other changes:

Akroma, Angel of Wrath Avatar — This is getting a template change to eliminate the colon in the middle of its ability. Only activated abilities contain colons.

Dauntless Escort Avatar — This one is picking up exalted reminder text in Oracle.

Elvish Champion Avatar The ability is being broken into two sentences to be easier to process.

Enigma Sphinx Avatar In the M10 update, the word "play" in its second sentence became "cast." It should've remained "play" since (due to Painter's Servant) it's possible for the ability to allow you to play a colored artifact land. The card never changed its functionality; it just had an erroneous wording in this corner case.

Frenetic Efreet Avatar This one is picking up phasing reminder text in Oracle. Its ability is getting a minor tweak to make the reminder text make sense.

Parallax Cards
These cards got power-level errata many years ago to stop shenanigans.

Shenanigan #1 was repeatedly activating the exile ability of Parallax Tide or Parallax Wave in response to itself (pulling off all the fade counters to exile stuff), then causing the Parallax enchantment to leave the battlefield in response to that. The leaves-the-battlefield ability would trigger and resolve (returning nothing from exile), then the activated abilities would resolve (exiling stuff forever). It's the same trick you can pull with Faceless Butcher or Oblivion Ring, except times five.

Shenanigan #2 involved turning Parallax Wave into a creature with Opalescence and using its ability to exile itself. Its leaves-the-battlefield ability would then trigger and return Parallax Wave to the battlefield, now with a full complement of fade counters. Note that Shenanigan #2 is, in fact, a great way to implement Shenanigan #1.

You couldn't do these things with Parallax Nexus (it has an "only any time you could cast a sorcery" restriction), but it went along for the errata ride with its two siblings.

The power-level errata is going away, so it's shenanigan time once again.

New Parallax Nexus wording
Fading 5 (This enchantment enters the battlefield with five fade counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade counter from it. If you can't, sacrifice it.)
Remove a fade counter from Parallax Nexus: Target opponent exiles a card from his or her hand. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.
When Parallax Nexus leaves the battlefield, each player returns to his or her hand all cards he or she owns exiled with Parallax Nexus.

New Parallax Tide wording
Fading 5 (This enchantment enters the battlefield with five fade counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade counter from it. If you can't, sacrifice it.)
Remove a fade counter from Parallax Tide: Exile target land.
When Parallax Tide leaves the battlefield, each player returns to the battlefield all cards he or she owns exiled with Parallax Tide.

New Parallax Wave wording
Fading 5 (This enchantment enters the battlefield with five fade counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade counter from it. If you can't, sacrifice it.)
Remove a fade counter from Parallax Wave: Exile target creature.
When Parallax Wave leaves the battlefield, each player returns to the battlefield all cards he or she owns exiled with Parallax Wave.

These cards got functional errata for a couple of different reasons. As printed, the target-specifying ability affected only spells and activated abilities. It was felt that this was confusing—players would expect that ability to also affect triggered abilities and copies of spells and abilities. Another reason for the change was that Artificial Evolution could create a situation not regulated anywhere. Imagine your opponent controlled two Flagbearers, but one of them was affected by Artificial Evolution, which changed "Flagbearer" to "Goblin" both on the type line and in the text box. Now each spell you cast that could target a Flagbearer would have to do so... and each spell you cast that could target a Goblin would have to do so. What if you cast Lightning Bolt? It could target a Flagbearer, and it could target a Goblin, but it couldn't target both at the same time. Could it be legally cast? What if Mistform Ultimus were on the battlefield; would you have to target it? The errata handled those questions by turning the ability into a triggered ability rather than a static ability.

We're reverting these back to their original functionality. They will no longer affect triggered abilities or copies of spells or abilities (unless those copies are cast, as they are with Isochron Scepter). They're becoming static abilities again, and will work as spells are being cast and abilities are being activated (not afterward). An addition to the rules will handle the especially tricky bits.

New Coalition Honor Guard wording
While choosing targets as part of casting a spell or activating an ability, your opponents must choose at least one Flagbearer on the battlefield if able.

Also affected: Coalition Flag, Standard Bearer

Exodus Keeper Cycle
As printed, the activated abilities on these cards had play restrictions that checked something about a targeted player. The modern rules say this is a no-no; the restriction is checked before you can even begin to activate the ability, but the target isn't chosen until after that point. So it's a paradox. These cards got errata in different ways. Three of them got activation restrictions that check all your opponents (but don't target any of them). The other two target an opponent, but check something about that opponent both as you activate the ability (which basically works as an activation restriction—if no opponent meets the parameters, you can't activate the ability) and as the ability resolves (which isn't how these cards originally worked).

These are all getting new wordings that check whether something is true about a target opponent at the time you activate the ability. This succeeds in targeting the opponent (which matches the printed functionality), acting as an activation restriction (if there's no one to target, you can't activate the ability), and not re-checking on resolution (since the ability only cares about the parameters as the ability was activated). If you have 2 life and your opponent has 4 life, you should be able to activate two Keepers of the Flame in response to one another to kill your opponent, since the printed wordings checked the life difference only as you activated the ability. The new wordings do that.

Note that the white, blue, and green ones are exceedingly weird, since they target an opponent and then don't actually affect that opponent at all!

New Keeper of the Light wording
{oW}, {oT}: Choose target opponent who had more life than you did as you activated this ability. You gain 3 life.

New Keeper of the Mind wording
{oU}, {oT}: Choose target opponent who had at least two more cards in hand than you did as you activated this ability. Draw a card.

New Keeper of the Dead wording
{oB}, {oT}: Choose target opponent who had at least two fewer creature cards in his or her graveyard than you did as you activated this ability. Destroy target nonblack creature he or she controls.

New Keeper of the Flame wording
{oR}, {oT}: Choose target opponent who had more life than you did as you activated this ability. Keeper of the Flame deals 2 damage to him or her.

New Keeper of the Beasts wording
{oG}, {oT}: Choose target opponent who controlled more creatures than you did as you activated this ability. Put a 2/2 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

Exodus Oath Cycle
These have largely the same problems as the Keepers. As printed, their trigger conditions contained "intervening 'if'" clauses that had targets. The modern rules says this is also a no-no: The clause is checked to see whether the ability even triggers, but the target isn't chosen until after that point. So, again, it's a paradox. There are also issues involving the phrase "target opponent." The way these cards are supposed to work, the player whose turn it is chooses the target, and that target is supposed to be an opponent of that player. However, unless the ability explicitly says otherwise, the player who actually chooses the target—and the player the target must be an opponent of—is the player who controls the ability (that is, the player who controls the Oath when it triggers), not the player whose turn it is.

Again, these were handled in different ways. Four of them kept their "intervening 'if'" clauses, except now they checked all players. One (Oath of Mages) used a complex targeting parameter instead.

These are all getting new wordings, and they're all getting complex targeting parameters like Oath of Mages. This lets the player whose turn it is choose the target, and have that target be one of his or her opponents. Targeting parameters, like "intervening 'if'" clauses, are checked both at the point when the ability would trigger and the point when it resolves, so that remains consistent. (This is a difference between the Oaths and the Keepers.)

New Oath of Lieges wording
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player who controls more lands than he or she does and is his or her opponent. The first player may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield, then shuffle his or her library.

New Oath of Scholars wording
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player who has more cards in hand than he or she does and is his or her opponent. The first player may discard his or her hand and draw three cards.

New Oath of Ghouls wording
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player whose graveyard has fewer creature cards in it than his or her graveyard does and is his or her opponent. The first player may return a creature card from his or her graveyard to his or her hand.

New Oath of Mages wording
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player who has more life than he or she does and is his or her opponent. The first player may have Oath of Mages deal 1 damage to the second player.

New Oath of Druids wording
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player who controls more creatures than he or she does and is his or her opponent. The first player may reveal cards from his or her library until he or she reveals a creature card. If he or she does, that player puts that card onto the battlefield and puts all other cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard.

The first abilities of the Mirage block "insta-chantments" are being somewhat reworded. These abilities defy categorization (and, some would argue, logic). They're static abilities that create delayed triggered abilities, which is weird enough. The delayed triggered abilities work two zones down the line, on what the game considers to be a completely different object from the card you cast as though it had flash. (The static ability works from whatever zone you could cast the card from. Then the card becomes a spell. Then the spell becomes a permanent.) Finally, this implementation of "bury" could be more robust. So three changes are being implemented:

  1. These cards will say that you can cast them as though they had flash (as opposed to any time you could cast an instant). They still won't have straight-up flash, though. They never really did; they always had an extended riff on flash. It's important that the sacrifice rider works only if you cast the card using its innate cast-as-though-it-had-flash ability, and not any other ability (like the one from Vedalken Orrery), so the rider will remain fused to the not-quite-flash ability.
  2. The ability will now reference the permanent that the spell becomes (as opposed to referencing "it," which, in context, would really mean the spell).
  3. It will instruct the permanent's controller (rather than you) to sacrifice it. If you cast Armor of Thorns as though it had flash, and it somehow winds up under someone else's control by the cleanup step, it'll still be sacrificed now.

Here's Armor of Thorns for reference; the other nine all have the same first ability.

New Armor of Thorns wording
You may cast Armor of Thorns as though it had flash. If you cast it any time a sorcery couldn't have been cast, the controller of the permanent it becomes sacrifices it at the beginning of the next cleanup step.
Enchant nonblack creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2.

Barreling Attack
As printed, this card would ideally be played before blockers were declared, because it then pumps up the affected creature for each creature that blocks it. It's the same ability seen on Rabid Wolverines, for example, and is similar to granting a creature bushido or rampage. The Oracle wording, however, functionally changed the card to a post-blocking combat trick that checks how many creatures are already blocking the affected creature. It's being changed back.

New wording
Target creature gains trample until end of turn. When that creature becomes blocked this turn, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each creature blocking it.

Bounty of the Hunt
I get more mail on this card than any other, I think. As printed, it temporarily distributed +1/+1 counters onto one, two, or three creatures. This was changed long ago to just give out +1/+1 bonuses, for a number of reasons: We don't do temporary +1/+1 counters (the whole point of counters is that they're permanent). If the counters were removed "at end of turn" (as it said to do), that would be before damage is removed from creatures, so any creature that you saved from incoming lethal damage with Bounty of the Hunt would die anyway (just a bit later than it otherwise would have). And counters of the same kind are indistinguishable, so Bounty of the Hunt's instruction to remove "those" counters is impossible to follow. Still, borrowing pieces from Armor of Thorns and Shambling Swarm, we can go back to a version that uses +1/+1 counters and works fairly intuitively.

New wording
You may exile a green card from your hand rather than pay Bounty of the Hunt's mana cost.
Distribute three +1/+1 counters among one, two, or three target creatures. For each +1/+1 counter you put on a creature this way, remove a +1/+1 counter from that creature at the beginning of the next cleanup step.

Like Armor of Thorns and Bounty of the Hunt, the printed wording creates a case when a toughness-granting effect would go away before damage is cleared. This is a ramification of Sixth Edition rules; as printed, it worked fine. But under the current rules, if your Runeclaw Bear enchanted by Cunning blocked a Goblin Piker, your Bear would still die that turn—it'd just do it a little later. (During the end step, Cunning is sacrificed, then the Bear has lethal damage on it and is destroyed. Damage isn't removed until the cleanup step.)

In most cases, we're OK with cards functionally changing due to rules changes. But sometimes the new functionality is so counterintuitive that it's just unacceptable. This is one of those cases, so, like the cards mentioned above, it's getting the "at the beginning of the next cleanup step" trigger too.

New wording
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.
When enchanted creature attacks or blocks, sacrifice Cunning at the beginning of the next cleanup step.

Dralnu, Lich Lord
We're done with creature type revisions. Really. We mean it! Well, except this once. If Lich Lord of Unx is a Zombie Wizard, Dralnu should be one as well. So it's gaining the Wizard creature type.

As printed, Equipoise handled lands, then artifacts, then creatures, and the permanents phased out in stages (which matters if something has multiple card types). The Oracle wording changed the order and phased everything out simultaneously. These aspects of the card are being reverted. (The card also targeted the permanents that it phases out, but that's just not feasible for a "repeat this process" card. You have to choose all the targets first, but you process the three parts in sequence? Kind of impossible.)

New wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, for each land target player controls in excess of the number you control, choose a land he or she controls, then the chosen permanents phase out. Repeat this process for artifacts and creatures. (While they're phased out, they're treated as though they don't exist. They phase in before that player untaps during his or her next untap step. )

Errant Minion & Power Leak
The wordings on these cards are being synched up. Also, their abilities should prevent their damage (as opposed to causing it not to be dealt), and the player should be allowed to pay more than two mana (since the damage can conceivably be increased beyond 2).

New Errant Minion wording
Enchant creature
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, that player may pay any amount of mana. Errant Minion deals 2 damage to that player. Prevent X of that damage, where X is the amount of mana that player paid this way.

New Power Leak wording
Enchant enchantment
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted enchantment's controller, that player may pay any amount of mana. Power Leak deals 2 damage to that player. Prevent X of that damage, where X is the amount of mana that player paid this way.

As printed, this affected the entire process of activating a cycling ability. The card got a new wording in Oracle not too long ago, but it had the inadvertent effect of making its ability affect only cycling costs. This could make a difference if Suppression Field is out, for example, so Fluctuator is getting a new wording that's based on abilities that reduce the cost to cast spells.

New wording
Cycling abilities you activate cost you up to {o2} less to activate.

Illusionary Mask
This card got a crazy new wording in the last update, but I mistakenly implemented the second-to-last version of that wording, not the final version. The Illusionary Mask effect is supposed to end once the face-down creature is turned face up for the first time (in case it's Wall of Deceit, for example). It's always worked the intended way in Masters Edition III; only the Oracle wording was inaccurate.

New wording
{oX}: You may choose a creature card in your hand whose mana cost could be paid by some amount of, or all of, the mana you spent on {oX}. If you do, you may cast that card face down as a 2/2 creature spell without paying its mana cost. If the creature that spell becomes as it resolves has not been turned face up and would assign or deal damage, be dealt damage, or become tapped, instead it's turned face up and assigns or deals damage, is dealt damage, or becomes tapped. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

Invoke Prejudice
Back in the early days of Magic, creature cards didn't say "creature" on their type lines—they said "summon." Except, oddly, for artifact creatures, which said "artifact creature" on their type lines. Cards that affected creature cards or creature spells referred to "summon cards" and "summon spells." Yet artifact creatures were neither, since they didn't say "summon" on them. Therefore, by a strict interpretation, cards printed with text that mentioned "summon cards" or "summon spells" should affect only nonartifact creatures.

Except we didn't do that. When "summon" was universally changed to "creature" on type lines, it was also universally changed to "creature"—not "nonartifact creature"—in rules text. (Similarly, when "interrupt" was decommissioned as a card type, all interrupts changed to instants and all cards that referred to interrupts got errata to refer to instants.) Many cards affected by the change (such as Remove Soul) have been reprinted, thus codifying the change further.

Only one card hasn't played ball: Invoke Prejudice. Its instance of "summon spell" got changed to "nonartifact creature spell," probably because it'd be really powerful with respect to colorless cards (since they don't share a color with anything). But that's not a good reason to shirk a universal terminology change.

New wording
Whenever an opponent casts a creature spell that doesn't share a color with a creature you control, counter that spell unless its controller pays {oX}, where X is its converted mana cost.

Master of the Hunt

As printed, this card created Wolves of the Hunt tokens that had "bands with other Wolves of the Hunt." In the creature type update, the tokens became Wolf tokens named Wolves of the Hunt, and the banding ability became "bands with other Wolves." At the time, it didn't matter, since that ability didn't let those Wolves band with other Wolves—it let them band with other creatures that had "bands with other Wolves." Those could only be other tokens created by Master of the Hunt. However, in the M10 rules update, the "bands with other" ability was changed to make the slightest bit of sense. Now those Wolf tokens could actually band with other Wolves. But that's never what they were intended to do, never what they did before, and not what the printed card implies. So now the tokens with have "bands with other creatures named Wolves of the Hunt."

New wording with ridiculous reminder text
{o2oGoG}: Put a 1/1 green Wolf creature token named Wolves of the Hunt onto the battlefield. It has "bands with other creatures named Wolves of the Hunt." (Any creatures named Wolves of the Hunt can attack in a band as long as at least one has "bands with other creatures named Wolves of the Hunt." Bands are blocked as a group. If at least two creatures named Wolves of the Hunt you control, one of which has "bands with other creatures named Wolves of the Hunt," are blocking or being blocked by the same creature, you divide that creature's combat damage, not its controller, among any of the creatures it's being blocked by or is blocking.)

Mogg Assassin
As printed, this ability didn't target an opponent. Also, it didn't require your opponent to target a creature you controlled; it let your opponent target any creature. If you can somehow make all your creatures unable to be targeted by this ability (for example, you give your Mogg Assassin shroud or protection from red, and you don't control any other creatures), you can force your opponent to target his or her own creature! That wouldn't be a very fair coin flip .... Note that the same creature can be targeted twice, guaranteeing its assassination.

New wording
{oT}: You choose target creature an opponent controls, and that opponent chooses target creature. Flip a coin. If you win the flip, destroy the creature you chose. Otherwise, destroy the creature your opponent chose.

The Oracle wording says that Penance just prevents damage that would be dealt to you. This is wrong; as printed, the card prevented damage from the chosen source no matter who or what it would be dealt to.

New wording
Put a card from your hand on top of your library: The next time a black or red source of your choice would deal damage this turn, prevent that damage.

Soldevi Sentry
This card is not working as intended, especially in multiplayer games. Soldevi Sentry has an activated ability that regenerates it and has another effect. Its Oracle wording has the other effect happen when the activated ability resolves. But the other effect should happen only when Soldevi Sentry actually regenerates, which is the way Matopi Golem, Skeleton Scavengers, and Debt of Loyalty works.

New wording
{o1}: Choose target opponent. Regenerate Soldevi Sentry. When it regenerates this way, that player may draw a card.

The Maelstrom
As printed, this plane card has an "otherwise" that's entirely unclear. Does it mean "if you choose not to reveal the top card of your library"? Does it mean "if the revealed card isn't a permanent card"? Does it mean "If you chose not to put the revealed permanent card onto the battlefield"? In fact, it's trying to do a similar cleanup maneuver to Warp World and cover all cases in which a revealed card didn't end up on the battlefield. (So it wants to mean "if it's not a permanent card" and "if you don't put it onto the battlefield.") That's being made explicit.

New wording
When you planeswalk to The Maelstrom or at the beginning of your upkeep, you may reveal the top card of your library. If it's a permanent card, you may put it onto the battlefield. If you revealed a card but didn't put it onto the battlefield, put it on the bottom of your library.
Whenever you roll {C}, return target permanent card from your graveyard to the battlefield.

Wall of Nets
We recently changed the second ability to refer to all creatures Wall of Nets blocked this combat, rather than the creatures it's currently blocking as the ability resolves. I no longer think that's correct; it should work like Kjeldoran Frostbeast.

We also changed "creatures removed from the game with Wall of Nets" to "creature cards exiled with Wall of Nets." Only cards that are creatures in exile will get to come back (sorry, Treetop Village). However, I now believe that the printed ability is referring to the permanents at the time they got exiled, not the cards once they're in exile (it says "creatures," not "creature cards" like Cold Storage, meaning it's looking at them when they're still permanents). That means it should return all the cards it exiled, since they were all creatures at the time they got exiled. (Good news, Treetop Village!)

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

Ydwen Efreet
This card was updated in the M10 update to become much, much closer to its printed wording (which is impossible to actually implement, since it contains a paradox). Still, I received a lot of mail bemoaning the fact that it wasn't close enough. So we're tweaking it a bit. First, if you lose the flip, not only is Ydwen Efreet removed from combat, but it can't block for the rest of the turn (as stipulated by the printed card). Second, the part of the effect that causes the blocked creature to (maybe) become unblocked has been revised a bit. It's still not perfect—perfect is impossible here—but it's a bit better than before.

New wording
Whenever Ydwen Efreet blocks, flip a coin. If you lose the flip, remove Ydwen Efreet from combat and it can't block this turn. Creatures it was blocking that had become blocked by only Ydwen Efreet this combat become unblocked.

Also affected by the second change: False Orders, Imprison

Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

Invasion Dragons
These are getting a minor tweak to their triggered abilities. The second sentence (in which you chose a color) and the third sentence (in which you did something based on that color choice) are being fused into a single sentence. All the changes are the same; here's Rith for reference.

New Rith, the Awakener wording
Whenever Rith, the Awakener deals combat damage to a player, you may pay {o2oG}. If you do, choose a color, then put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield for each permanent of that color.

Avenging Druid
This card is getting an "if you do" added to its second sentence.

New wording
Whenever Avenging Druid deals damage to an opponent, you may reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. If you do, put that card onto the battlefield and put all other cards revealed this way into your graveyard.

Ayesha Tanaka, Reroute, Rust
These cards are getting "(Mana abilities can't be targeted)" reminder text.

We're making it clearer which creature you gain control of.

New wording
Enchant creature
Whenever enchanted creature deals damage to a creature, gain control of the second creature for as long as Charisma remains on the battlefield.

Debt of Loyalty
"This turn" is being deleted for being redundant; if the creature doesn't regenerate this way this turn, the regeneration shield goes away.

New wording
Regenerate target creature. You gain control of that creature if it regenerates this way.

Fade Away
This kind of ability should be worded with an "unless."

New wording
For each creature, its controller sacrifices a permanent unless he or she pays {o1}.

Flash of Defiance
The wording can be more straightforward.

New wording
Green creatures and white creatures can't block this turn.
Flashback—{o1oR}, Pay 3 life. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

Floodgate & Price of Progress
In nearly all cases, we avoid spells and abilities that "deal N damage for each" something, since it's unclear whether that's one lump sum of damage or a number of small instances of damage. This matters if a prevention effect prevents "the next time" a source deals damage. The answer is that it's one lump sum, and the prevention effect will prevent all of it, but it's usually better to word the cards in such a way that the question doesn't even need to be asked.

New Floodgate wording
Defender (This creature can't attack.)
When Floodgate has flying, sacrifice it.
When Floodgate leaves the battlefield, it deals damage equal to half the number of Islands you control, rounded down, to each nonblue creature without flying.

New Price of Progress wording
Price of Progress deals damage to each player equal to twice the number of nonbasic lands that player controls.

Flowstone Flood
This was missing a period after its buyback cost.

Limited Resources
"If" is being changed to "as long as".

New wording
When Limited Resources enters the battlefield, each player chooses five lands he or she controls and sacrifices the rest.
Players can't play lands as long as ten or more lands are on the battlefield.

Memory Crystal
Very few cards actually use the word "reduce" in their text; it's more standard to say that something costs less. Note that unlike Fluctuator, this ability specifically applies to buyback costs only (as opposed to, say, spells cast with buyback).

New wording
Buyback costs cost {o2} less.

As originally printed, it used "X," which is shorter and works just fine (see Sickening Dreams), so it's being reverted to that.

New wording
Cast Necrologia only during your end step.
As an additional cost to cast Necrologia, pay X life.
Draw X cards.

Obsidian Fireheart
According to a new standard wording that we introduced in the M10 update, this card's "as long as" duration should say "for as long as" instead. It was new, so we missed it here.

New wording
{o1oRoR}: Put a blaze counter on target land without a blaze counter on it. For as long as that land has a blaze counter on it, it has "At the beginning of your upkeep, this land deals 1 damage to you." (The land continues to burn after Obsidian Fireheart has left the battlefield.)

As printed, the card instructs you to reveal the top card of your opponent's library. It'll now instruct your opponent to reveal his or her card.

New wording
Enchant creature
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, that player reveals the top card of his or her library. If that card is a land card, destroy that creature. Otherwise, it gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

The M10 rules change to the combat damage step renders the second sentence of this card unnecessary.

New wording
{o0}: Remove target attacking creature you control from combat and untap it.

Song of Serenity
The wording is very easy to misread. The Guildpact Magemarks demonstrate a better wording for this ability.

New wording
Creatures that are enchanted can't attack or block.

103.3b & 103.3c
The "starting the game" procedures got these new subrules regarding the special procedures taken in Vanguard and EDH, respectively.

This mulligan rule stated that a player draws a new hand of seven cards the first time he or she takes a mulligan in a multiplayer game. But that may not be true in a Vanguard game, since his or her starting hand size may not be seven, so the rule has been adjusted accordingly.

This new rule covers the alternate mulligan rules used in EDH.

This new rule describes loyalty abilities. All subsequent rules in this section (starting with the old 112.5) have been renumbered. (See the note on section 606 below.)

112.6k (formerly 112.5k)
This rule now states that abilities of vanguard cards (in addition to plane cards) function in the command zone.

115.1, 115.2, 115.2e
These rules are in the section on priority. The first two were changed, and the third was added, to define the system more accurately. The rules had said that players can't take actions unless they have priority—but that's not true; player can also take actions if a spell or ability instructs them to (and no one has priority at that time).

This rule covers starting life totals. It was broken into a rule (to cover the starting life total of 20) and a subrule (to cover Two-Headed Giant), then two more subrules were added to cover Vanguard and EDH, respectively.

The parts of a card now include hand modifier and life modifier.

204.2a, 300.1
The card types now include vanguard.

Trap was added to the list of spell types.

Ally and Surrakar were added to the list of creature types.

This new rule was added to cover vanguard subtypes (there are none).

Landfall was added to the list of ability words.

This rule about loyalty abilities was added to the loyalty section. (See the note on section 606 below.)

This is a new section covering hand modifier. The old 209 was renumbered to 211.

This is a new section covering life modifier.

This rule now specifies that if an Aura is also a creature, it first becomes unattached from whatever it was attached to, then is put into the graveyard, each as a state-based action.

This new rule covers loyalty abilities. (See the note on section 606 below.)

This rule, which used to cover activated abilities of planeswalkers, has been deleted. The subsequent rules in this section have been renumbered. (See the note on section 606 below.)

This is the new section for the vanguard card type.

This rule had to be modified a bit to cover Sphinx of Jwar Isle. Now it covers cards on top of a library that are revealed or can be looked at.

This rule was added to state that once a player has made all of his or her combat damage assignments, those assignments as a whole are checked to see if they're legal. If not, they're redone.

This rule got a line added to it to cover the new Flagbearer ability. Similar to the rule regarding restrictions and requirements when declaring attackers or blockers, it basically states that a player chooses targets so the maximum number of "must target" effects are followed without violating any "can't target" effects.

This ability was added to cover "loyalty abilities," which are activated abilities with loyalty symbols in their costs. Previous rules about planeswalkers stated that a player could activate only one of their abilities per planeswalker per turn, and could do so only at a time he or she could cast a sorcery. Now these restrictions are intrinsic to the abilities, not intrinsic to the planeswalker card type.

This was done for two reasons. 1) This makes a lot more sense if a planeswalker is granted an activated ability, as with Flame Fusillade. Activating that other ability shouldn't preclude activating a loyalty ability, and shouldn't have to be done only at a time the player could cast a sorcery. 2) This closes a loophole regarding a non-planeswalker (such as Quicksilver Elemental) that somehow picks up some loyalty abilities and goes bonkers.

The rest of the 600 section (from the old section 606 through the old section 615) have all been renumbered.

607.2 (formerly 606.2), 706.2
These sections were updated with the new kicker terminology.

608.2b (formerly 607.2b), 608.2g (formerly 607.2g)
These rules got wording tweaks regarding objects that aren't in the zone they're expected to be in.

This rule was added to cover timestamps of vanguard cards.

This rule, in the intimidate section, has been deleted. (Intimidate was added to the rulebook before there were any cards with that ability; this rule explained that that there were no cards with intimidate yet. But now there are, so the rule is no longer needed.)

This section now references Sorin Markov as the other card that can allow a player's turn to be controlled by another player.

This section was added to cover the Vanguard casual variant.

This section was added to cover the Elder Dragon Highlander casual variant.

New entries were added for:
Elder Dragon Highlander
Hand Modifier
Life Modifier
Loyalty Ability

A new definition was added for:

Latest Feature Articles


A Closer Look at the Next Three FNM Promos by, Nicholas Wolfram

Blake already announced the Friday Night Magic promos through June back in January, but we felt like you may want a closer look at the new art for the next three promos, so here you go! ...

Learn More


Magic Story Podcast: Mark Winters by, Blake Rasmussen

This week, we're on episode six of six of the Magic Story Podcast, and we're joined by Mark Winters, Magic senior art director and the art director for Aether Revolt. He's here to talk ab...

Learn More



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