Return to Ravnica Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on September 26, 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.

Isn't preview season the best? We're all getting ready to return to the urban landscape of Ravnica. The five new guild mechanics have been revealed, and there are plenty of exciting cards to think about with the Prerelease this weekend. And Return to Ravnica might just be the best Prerelease ever, with players from all over the globe joining together in service of their favorite guild. You might expect the Rules Manager to be a natural fit with the lawmages of the Azorius Senate, right up until I killed you and ate you. Go Gruul!

Thanks again to all the players, judges, and well... whatever those people are called, for all their suggestions over the last few months. If you see a rule you'd like to change or a card whose Oracle wording doesn't seem quite right, please let me know! I can be reached on Twitter (@TabakRules) or by responding to this article using the link at the bottom of the page.

Have fun at the Prerelease events!

Book Burning, Cloudhoof Kirin, Foreshadow, Grindstone, and Predict

Don't worry, this update has nothing to do with a player having Book Burning. When an instruction involves putting cards from the top of a library into a graveyard, the person performing the action is pretty arbitrary. Still, we generally prefer the owner of that library do it unless there's a specific reason to deviate. Book Burning and four other cards had no such reason, so we're changing them to have the owner handle it.

Previous Book Burning wording
Any player may have Book Burning deal 6 damage to him or her. If no one does, put the top six cards of target player's library into his or her graveyard.

New Book Burning wording
Any player may have Book Burning deal 6 damage to him or her. If no one does, target player puts the top six cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Previous Cloudhoof Kirin wording
Flying
Whenever you cast a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put the top X cards of target player's library into his or her graveyard, where X is that spell's converted mana cost.

New Cloudhoof Kirin wording
Flying
Whenever you cast a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may have target player put the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is that spell's converted mana cost.

Previous Foreshadow wording
Name a card, then put the top card of target opponent's library into his or her graveyard. If that card is the named card, you draw a card.
Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

New Foreshadow wording
Name a card, then target opponent puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard. If that card is the named card, you draw a card.
Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

Previous Grindstone wording
{o3}, {oT}: Put the top two cards of target player's library into that player's graveyard. If both cards share a color, repeat this process.

New Grindstone wording
{o3}, {oT}: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. If both cards share a color, repeat this process.

Previous Predict wording
Name a card, then put the top card of target player's library into his or her graveyard. If that card is the named card, you draw two cards. Otherwise, you draw a card.

New Predict wording
Name a card, then target player puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard. If that card is the named card, you draw two cards. Otherwise, you draw a card.

Revenant Patriarch & Shrieking Grotesque

These two were part of a cycle that ran throughout the original Ravnica block: monocolored cards that rewarded you if you used a second color of mana to pay for them. Nothing functional here, we're just going to tighten up these two cards by using "it" instead of the card's name on second reference. Two other cards from this cycle, Gruul Scrapper and Steamcore Weird, almost got this update, but we weren't in love with the "it, it" construction that would result.

Previous Revenant Patriarch wording
When Revenant Patriarch enters the battlefield, if {oW} was spent to cast Revenant Patriarch, target player skips his or her next combat phase.
Revenant Patriarch can't block.

New Revenant Patriarch wording
When Revenant Patriarch enters the battlefield, if {oW} was spent to cast it, target player skips his or her next combat phase.
Revenant Patriarch can't block.

Previous Shrieking Grotesque wording
Flying
When Shrieking Grotesque enters the battlefield, if {oB} was spent to cast Shrieking Grotesque, target player discards a card.

New Shrieking Grotesque wording
Flying
When Shrieking Grotesque enters the battlefield, if {oB} was spent to cast it, target player discards a card.

Crystal Spray & Whim of Volrath

These two cards create a text-changing effect, changing all instances of one color word with another or one basic land type with another. Their template could be misread to think you could change a color word to a basic land type. As we're not fans of redwalk or protection from Swamp, we'll be changing the templates on these two to match Mind Bend.

Previous Crystal Spray wording
Change the text of target spell or permanent by replacing all instances of one color word or basic land type with another until end of turn.
Draw a card.

New Crystal Spray wording
Change the text of target spell or permanent by replacing all instances of one color word with another or one basic land type with another until end of turn.
Draw a card.

Previous Whim of Volrath wording
Buyback {o2} (You may pay an additional {o2} as you cast this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Change the text of target permanent by replacing all instances of one color word or basic land type with another until end of turn. (For example, you may change "nonred creature" to "nongreen creature" or "plainswalk" to "swampwalk.")

New Whim of Volrath wording
Buyback {o2} (You may pay an additional {o2} as you cast this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Change the text of target permanent by replacing all instances of one color word with another or one basic land type with another until end of turn. (For example, you may change "nonred creature" to "nongreen creature" or "plainswalk" to "swampwalk.")

Bramble Elemental

In the beginning, Bramble Elemental was printed, and it was good. Then, I studied rule 603.2d, and I came to the logical conclusion that if "becomes attached" was being used in a trigger condition, then it couldn't trigger when an Aura entered the battlefield attached to Bramble Elemental. So Bramble Elemental received some admittedly ugly errata. I wasn't completely satisfied with it, so I continued to think about it every once in a while. Finally, I realized that the rule was written too broadly and adjusted it to more precisely define the types of triggers we want to not trigger when a permanent entered the battlefield in a certain state (like Judge of Currents not triggering when a Merfolk entered the battlefield tapped). With that new rule in place, Bramble Elemental can go back to its happy place.

Previous Bramble Elemental wording
Whenever an Aura becomes attached to Bramble Elemental or enters the battlefield attached to Bramble Elemental, put two 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.

New Bramble Elemental wording
Whenever an Aura becomes attached to Bramble Elemental, put two 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.

Seeds of Innocence

The printed wording gives no indication that the life gain should be dependent on successfully destroying the artifacts, so we're changing the wording to reflect that. Fans of Darksteel Forge and lifegain can rejoice now. I guess?

Previous Seeds of Innocence wording
Destroy all artifacts. They can't be regenerated. The controller of each artifact destroyed this way gains life equal to its converted mana cost.

New Seeds of Innocence wording
Destroy all artifacts. They can't be regenerated. The controller of each of those artifacts gains life equal to its converted mana cost.

Roots of Life

You take the good, you take the bad, you take two basic land types in the first ability that were pluralized but shouldn't have been so we fixed it, and there you have the Roots of Life, the Roots of Life...

Previous Roots of Life wording
As Roots of Life enters the battlefield, choose Islands or Swamps.
Whenever a land of the chosen type an opponent controls becomes tapped, you gain 1 life.

New Roots of Life wording
As Roots of Life enters the battlefield, choose Island or Swamp.
Whenever a land of the chosen type an opponent controls becomes tapped, you gain 1 life.

Death Cloud

Managing Editor Del Laugel brought this card to my attention one day, then I replied I thought it had the same template as Smallpox, then I looked up Smallpox, then I wondered what all the extra instances of "then" were all about, then I decided to get rid of them, then I wrote this update. This isn't a functional change. The four parts are still sequential.

Previous Death Cloud wording
Each player loses X life, then discards X cards, then sacrifices X creatures, then sacrifices X lands.

New Death Cloud wording
Each player loses X life, discards X cards, sacrifices X creatures, then sacrifices X lands.

Intuition

Another minor cosmetic update—this card had an extra "any" that the standard template for searching your library for cards doesn't.

Previous Intuition wording
Search your library for any three cards and reveal them. Target opponent chooses one. Put that card into your hand and the rest into your graveyard. Then shuffle your library.

New Intuition wording
Search your library for three cards and reveal them. Target opponent chooses one. Put that card into your hand and the rest into your graveyard. Then shuffle your library.

205.2a

I previously forgot to include phenomena in this rule that lists card types.

205.3j

Vraska is added to the list of Planeswalker types. I wouldn't recommend looking at this rule now. Better safe than stony.

207.2c

This rule said, in part, "An ability word appears in italics at the beginning of some abilities on cards." Well, ability words aren't limited to cards, so I chopped off the last two words.

207.3

Added a mention of the Return to Ravnica block to this rule that talks about guild icons, faction icons, and other watermarks with no effect on game play.

401.5

This rule states that a card that's drawn while another spell is being cast is kept face down until that spell becomes cast. It's a pretty unusual situation, only coming up with cards like Chromatic Sphere. The idea is that you could start to cast a spell, pop the Sphere for mana in the middle of doing so, see that you're going to draw a spell you'd *rather* cast, and stop the casting of the original spell. For various reasons, including Magic Online shenanigans, we don't want you to cast spells on spec like that.

Okay, so what was wrong with the rule? Well, there wasn't support for face down cards in your hand, so technically those cards still had their characteristics. What's the problem there? Consider the top card of your library is Elvish Spirit Guide. You're in the middle of casting a spell and now it's in your hand face down. Can you exile it for mana? The intention is no, especially given that you're not supposed to know what the card is. So now, face down cards in your hand will be considered to have no characteristics until you're done casting the spell. They are just cards, which might be important to all you Overeager Apprentice fans out there.

603.2d

This rule tells us... well, it used to tell us this:

603.2d Some trigger events use the word "becomes" (for example, "becomes attached" or "becomes blocked"). These trigger only at the time the named event happens—they don't trigger if that state already exists or retrigger if it persists. An ability that triggers when a permanent "becomes tapped" or "becomes untapped" doesn't trigger if the permanent enters the battlefield in that state.

Not triggering when a permanent enters the battlefield makes sense. As I said in the Bramble Elemental Oracle change explanation, Judge of Currents shouldn't trigger when your Merfolk enters the battlefield tapped. But with all due respect to the differences between Auras and Aura cards, saying that an Aura didn't become attached to something when it entered the battlefield attached to something was a little ridiculous. So, I researched the kinds of phrases we were talking about by searching for "becomes." Here they are:

  • Becomes tapped
  • Becomes untapped
  • Becomes attached
  • Becomes unattached
  • Becomes blocked
  • Becomes the target

I didn't include things like "becomes red" or "becomes a 1/1 blue Frog." Of these, only tapped and untapped represented the kinds of conditions we cared about with respect to permanents entering the battlefield, so the rule is being adjusted to reflect that.

608.2b

This rule describes how a targeted spell or ability checks the legality of its targets when it tries to resolve. Specifically, it stated that the resolving spell or ability can't perform actions on an illegal target, nor can it make that target perform any actions. However, this didn't quite cover cases like Soul's Fire, which makes another object perform an action on the illegal target. The new rule clears it up by specifically stating that the resolving spell or ability also can't make another object perform actions on that target.

614.12

This rule describes how replacement effects modify a permanent entering the battlefield. I added a cross-reference to rule 616.1 (which talks about multiple replacement effects interacting). I thought it would be handy.

701.15c

This new rule states that if you are instructed to search a zone for a card that matches an undefined quality, you search the zone but can't find cards. Lobotomy vs. an empty hand can produce this result. Subsequent rules were renumbered.

701.25d

When I wrote the rules for transform, I neglected to really describe what "transforms into," seen on cards like Howlpack Alpha, really meant. Specifically, what happens if you have a single-faced card with this ability (probably because it's a copy of one face of a double-faced card) and it transforms? The answer is nothing happens: to transform into an object with a certain name, you must have some other name immediately before the transform instruction is carried out.

701.26

These are the new rules for detain. Wait here and think about them.

...

Okay, move along.

701.27

These are the new rules for populate. My instinct here was to make some "Gangnam Style" joke, but I've just recently caught up with that Carly Rae Jepsen thing, so I'm going to let it go.

702.32a

Minor editing correction to the flashback rules.

702.94

These are the new rules for overload.

702.95

These are the new rules for scavenge.

702.96

These are the new rules for unleash.

Say, did you realize that Gatecrash or "Sinker" will probably cause the creation of rule 702.100? We'll have to start making more keyword actions so that section can catch up.

708.6a

Moved the split card example that used to be attached to rule 708.6c to this rule instead. It seemed a much better fit.

800.4a

I changed the rules governing removing a player from a multiplayer game. It used to be the following sequence was used to "clean up" that player's cards and other objects:

  • Objects owned by that player leave the game.
  • Effects that gave the player control of any objects or players end.
  • Spells and abilities controlled by that player cease to exist.
  • Any objects still controlled by that player are exiled.

The hole here is Step 3. Consider the case where a player casts a card that he or she doesn't own (using something like Sen Triplets). In response, that player leaves the game. Okay, so walking through the procedure:

  • It's not an object that player owns, so it stays on the stack. So far so good.
  • There isn't an effect that gave the player control of the object, so it stays on the stack. Okay.
  • It's a spell controlled by that player, so it must now cease to exist.

We'd prefer you not cause your opponent's cards to cease to exist. So, here's the new-and-improved procedure:

  • Objects owned by that player leave the game.
  • Effects that gave the player control of any objects or players end.
  • Any abilities or copies of spells controlled by the player cease to exist.
  • Any objects still controlled by that player are exiled.

Glossary

New glossary entries: detain, overload, populate, scavenge, unleash.

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