Theros Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on September 24, 2013

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.

Welcome, dear readers, to a small look behind the curtain, under the hood, and betwixt the metaphors. With every new expansion, the Oracle team and I spend some time working on perfecting the wordings of older cards and tweaking the Comprehensive Rules. After the more substantial update that took place with the Magic 2014 core set, I knew the Theros update would be a little lighter.

It's possible that this is just the natural progression toward a more perfect Oracle. But I believe that's a moving target that can't quite be hit. We'll always innovate with new terms like fight to make cards read as resonantly and intuitively as possible. There will always be new mechanics. Our game is always growing, and I can't wait to see what comes next. (Full disclosure: I know what comes next. And next after that. But a few nexts down the road I'm completely in the dark.)

The Magic rules system is actually a number of subsystems that all work together. A number of those subsystems could be improved; optimized; or, in some cases, reimagined. One of my goals for the future is to start tackling these initiatives. For some of these, I've sketched out blueprints. For others, I've just started to think about them. Even if none of it ultimately gets published, it's a fascinating exercise, with the overall goal of making Magic more fun and more accessible.

But that's tomorrow. For today, please enjoy this small number of updates. Many thanks to my partners on the Oracle team and to the members of the community who brought issues to our attention over the last few months. If you have a card or rule you'd like us to take a look at, please let us know by clicking one of those links at the bottom of the page.

Until next time, I'm the rules manager, and you will do as I say. Please?

Animal Boneyard (nonfunctional)

This card deviated slightly from the standard template, seen on cards like Diamond Valley. In the effect of an activated ability, we usually refer to a creature sacrificed in the activation cost as "the sacrificed creature."

Old wording:
Enchant land

Enchanted land has "{oT}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to that creature's toughness."

New wording:
Enchant land

Enchanted land has "{oT}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature's toughness."




Blood Speaker (functional, but no one will think so)

Technically, the last sentence in the first ability fell outside the purview of the "if you do." So strictly speaking, you'd shuffle your library at the beginning of each of your upkeeps. Of course this is absurd, so we're consolidating sentences so there's no confusion.

Old wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may sacrifice Blood Speaker. If you do, search your library for a Demon card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

Whenever a Demon enters the battlefield under your control, return Blood Speaker from your graveyard to your hand.

New wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may sacrifice Blood Speaker. If you do, search your library for a Demon card, reveal that card, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

Whenever a Demon enters the battlefield under your control, return Blood Speaker from your graveyard to your hand.




Shanodin Dryads (functional)

Now that Nymph is (once again) a creature type; the one card that was originally printed as a Nymph, Shanodin Dryads, should also be one.

Old creature type:
Dryad

New creature type:
Nymph Dryad




Talara's Bane (nonfunctional)

This card was missing the word "to."

Old wording:
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a green or white creature card from it. You gain life equal that creature card's toughness, then that player discards that card.

New wording:
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a green or white creature card from it. You gain life equal to that creature card's toughness, then that player discards that card.

205.3j

Ashiok and Xenagos join the list of Planeswalker types.

205.3m

God, Nymph, and Sable join the list of creature types.

207.2c

Heroic joins the list of ability words.

301.5e & 303.4j

This rule affects some corner cases with Bludgeon Brawl and Dominating Licid. It's a bit of a deep dive. Still here? Okay then. So, it's possible to have a permanent with an ability that refers to the "equipped creature" that's not an Equipment. Or, you can have one that has an ability that refers to the "enchanted [something]" without being an Aura. In some weird cases, such a permanent can be attached to another permanent.

For example, there was a weird combo with Myr Welder exiling Demonspine Whip and Transmogrifying Licid. The Welder could now become an Aura and attach to a creature. But if it wasn't an Equipment, what did the Demonspine Whip ability mean? Was there an "equipped creature?" At the time, we decided no. "Equipped creature" had no meaning if not on an Equipment. "Enchanted creature" had no meaning if not on an Aura.

This stance was logical, but it had a few unintended consequences. The most glaring was Dominating Licid. It becomes an Aura with "You control enchanted creature." This control-changing effect applies in layer 2. But at this point, the Licid isn't an Aura yet. That doesn't happen until layer 4. By rule, the ability didn't do anything, because it said "enchanted creature" and wasn't on an Aura. Clearly, this wasn't what we had in mind.

So, we're reversing course. Under this new paradigm, laid out in rule 301.5e and 303.4j, "enchanted," "equipped," and "fortified" are really just different ways to say "attached." It doesn't matter what type or subtype the permanent with the appropriate ability is, and that ability will refer to whatever the permanent is attached to.

303.4h

This rule was created to handle the unusual case of an effect trying to put a permanent that isn't an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification onto the battlefield attached to an object or player. It was written a little too narrowly and didn't handle all the cases it needed to. As an example of how this could happen, say you have an Aura with bestow and Flickerform attached to the same creature. If you activate Flickerform's ability, the card with bestow will return to the battlefield as an unattached enchantment creature.

305.7

This rule, covering effects that change land types, got a small tweak. If an effect sets a land's subtype to one or more of the basic land types, it loses all abilities it had. The rule inadvertently left out abilities it may have had due to copy effects, so that hole was closed.

700.5

This is a new rule defining the term devotion to [color].

701.28

New rules for the keyword ability monstrosity.

702.102

New rules for the keyword bestow.

910.10b

A small typo was fixed.

Glossary

New entries for bestow, devotion, monstrosity, monstrous, and paired (which I missed at the time).

Latest Feature Articles

FEATURE

Magic Player Profile Survey by, Wizards of the Coast

What do you want as a Magic fan? You can let us know directly with this new survey.

Learn More

FEATURE

Amonkhet Prerelease Primer by, Gavin Verhey

Welcome to Amonkhet! You've never quite seen a world like Amonkhet before. Inspired by ancient Egypt at its height, and showcasing some of the strongest warriors around, Amonkhet is a ...

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