Magic 2013 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on July 4, 2012

By Matt Tabak

Matt Tabak is the reigning, defending, and undisputed rules manager for Magic: The Gathering, Kaijudo, and Duel Masters. Matt Tabak is Gruul. Matt Tabak tries to laugh, think, and cry every day. Matt Tabak is hungry. Matt Tabak doesn't want you to sass him. Matt Tabak loves puppies.

The Magic 2013 core set, fifteenth of its name, will soon be upon us. Exalted is back, there are a few new Planeswalkers, and magical things from all over the Multiverse are waiting for their place in your favorite decks. And it's time once again to polish some older cards and tweak the Comprehensive Rules.

Unlike some previous core sets, Magic 2013 doesn't bring with it any revolutionary upheavals. But still, Oracle and the rules aren't quite perfect yet, so the joyous work continues. Maybe you're not impressed with the number of changes now, but as they say up north: Ravnica is coming.

Many thanks to the players, judges, organizers, and everyone else out there who sent in suggestions for rules changes and identified cards for review. Maybe you've noticed a card whose Oracle wording isn't quite what you think it should be. Maybe you've found an unexpected loophole in the rules or found a rule that doesn't quite work the way you think it should. Tell me about it! You can respond to this article, hit me up on Twitter @TabakRules, or drop me a note in the forums (I'm WotC_MattT).

The Oracle changes should be put into Gatherer on or around July 5, with the Comprehensive Rules update following shortly thereafter. It has to go through a full review and editing process, so the changes I talk about here may not exactly match what gets published.

"Why is that," you may be wondering. "Why write an Update Bulletin before the changes are finalized?" Well, I'm glad you asked. The purpose of the Update Bulletin is twofold: 1) give everyone a heads-up about changes that are about to take effect and 2) give ourselves some time to adjust if we've decided to do something insane. So, I tell you about changes ahead of time, and if we've flown over the deep end with a cuckoo's nest in our hands and a mixed metaphor in our hearts, we have time absorb feedback and course-correct.

Grizzled Wolverine

Interpreting the printed card's activated ability as a triggered ability is reasonable, but it also introduces two notable functional changes. First, the printed wording's requirement of a creature being assigned to block Grizzled Wolverine was lost. Thanks to cards like Dazzling Beauty, a blocking creature isn't required for Grizzled Wolverine to become blocked. Second, its former Oracle text behaved differently when multiple combats were introduced, allowing the ability to trigger more than once a turn. So, we're going to go back to an activated ability with enough restrictions to mirror the original printing as closely as we can.

New Grizzled Wolverine wording:
{oR}: Grizzled Wolverine gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Activate this ability only during the declare blockers step, only if at least one creature is blocking Grizzled Wolverine, and only once each turn.

Dark Sphere

The printed card prevented damage, as you would naturally expect a Dark Sphere to do. The previous Oracle wording instead halves damage, which would be fine if the card were called Light Sphere, but it's not. Welcome back to the dark side, Mr. Sphere!

New Dark Sphere wording:
{oT}, Sacrifice Dark Sphere: The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to you this turn, prevent half that damage, rounded down.

Mishra's War Machine

I'll be the first to admit that this card's Fourth Edition change to suddenly care about whether damage was dealt to you when determining if it should tap or not is a little strange. However, it is the most recent and most prevalent printing of that card, so the Oracle wording should respect that.

New Mishra's War Machine wording:
Banding (Any creatures with banding, and up to one without, can attack in a band. Bands are blocked as a group. If any creatures with banding you control are blocking or being blocked by a creature, you divide that creature's combat damage, not its controller, among any of the creatures it's being blocked by or is blocking.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, Mishra's War Machine deals 3 damage to you unless you discard a card. If Mishra's War Machine deals damage to you this way, tap it.

Goblin Flotilla

This card is receiving a minor nonfunctional change. We're changing the template we use for a triggered ability that triggers each combat by being a little more helpful and saying "at the beginning of each combat." Previously, they just triggered "at the beginning of combat."

New Goblin Flotilla wording:
Islandwalk
At the beginning of each combat, unless you pay {oR}, whenever Goblin Flotilla blocks or becomes blocked by a creature this combat, that creature gains first strike until end of turn.

Nether Void

Ah, Nether Void: provider of fun Magic since the days of Legends. Its ability triggers whenever a player casts a spell but asks its controller to pay an additional {o3}. Thanks to Commandeer, these two players may not always be the same. In the Eye of Chaos does a similar thing and refers to "that player," and I think this card should follow suit.

New Nether Void wording:
Whenever a player casts a spell, counter it unless that player pays {o3}.

Wall of Caltrops

The printed version of Wall of Caltrops, in addition to having awesome flavor text, pretty clearly said Wall of Caltrops had to join with one or more other Walls in order to gain banding. So... let's do that.

New Wall of Caltrops wording:
Defender (This creature can't attack.)
Whenever Wall of Caltrops blocks a creature, if at least one other Wall creature is blocking that creature and no non-Wall creatures are blocking that creature, Wall of Caltrops gains banding until end of turn. (If any creatures with banding you control are blocking a creature, you divide that creature's combat damage, not its controller, among any of the creatures it's being blocked by.)

Sewers of Estark

The printed wording of this promo card says "during combat," which is a little ambiguous. It could be interpreted as "during combat this turn" or "during this combat," but we're going with the latter.

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

120.7

This rule covers the case where replacement and prevention effects result in multiple card draws. It makes the timing of handling such cases clear, putting the card draws after any parts of the original event that aren't replaced. However, this should really apply to effects that result in a single card draw also, so this rule is being tweaked accordingly.

507.1

Fixed a typo in the first sentence. "Opponent's" becomes "opponents."

614.13

This rule covers enters-the-battlefield replacement effects that also move other objects to new zones, such as the ones created by Sutured Ghoul's ability or devour. There are now two subrules, the first saying you can't have the object entering the battlefield go to another zone when applying such a replacement effect (aka Sutured Ghoul can't exile itself when entering the battlefield from a graveyard). The second says that you can only choose to move an object to a new zone once when applying such effects (aka You can't sacrifice the same creature to multiple devour abilities if your Planechase game is on Jund).

615.11

This rule covers damage that can't be prevented and how damage prevention shields still are applied to such damage, even though those shields won't actually prevent damage. Now, rule 615.7 makes it clear that a damage prevention shield is reduced by actually preventing damage, not just by the act of applying that shield. So, I'm adding a clarification to rule 615.11 that says your existing damage prevention shields will be intact even after you're dealt damage by Malignus, for example.

701.8g

Fixed a typo. "Replacements effects" becomes "replacement effects."

701.21d

Fixed a typo. "The plane card or that's turned face up" becomes "the plane card that's turned face up."

703.4e

Fixed the same typo that appeared in rule 507.1.

708.2a

This rule deals with the casting of split cards. I added a sentence saying that only the half you intend to cast is evaluated to see if it can be cast. This matters if one half can't be cast (due to Iona, Shield of Emeria, for example) but the other can. Although it's clear that only one half is considered to be put on the stack, it wasn't clear what characteristics you looked at in the first place to determine whether you could cast either half at all.

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