Dragon's Maze Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on April 25, 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.

The Dragon's Maze Prerelease is almost here! In fact, it's a lot closer than it's supposed to be as I'm writing this, but I got sick and this ended up a little late. I didn't think writing it while on cold medicine was a great idea, but then all of a sudden the weekend had gone by and I still hadn't written anything, and I knew the Prerelease was in a few days, and I.... Where was I?

Oh right! The Prerelease. "The Opening Day of Magic," someone once said. And the release of a new set means a new round of Oracle updates and a new version of the Comprehensive Rules. Those shiny new cards need shiny new rules to make them work, and we collect suggestions from players, judges, and the rest of R&D to tweak existing cards and rules. The results are summarized in this article.

Many people contribute to these updates. You can, too! Tweet me at @TabakRules. Use the link below to reply. Mail me a postcard! (But that way may take a while.) Leave me a message in the forums. Really, there are several ways to let me know if you see a card text or rule that could use a second (or seventeenth) look. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. So, what do we have in store this time?

Because there's a new keyword in Dragon's Maze, fuse, there are new rules to make that keyword, you know... work. Also, the rule for naming cards was changed a bit with respect to split cards. Cards got polished for clarity or to line them up with current templating standards. Knowing a core set is just around the corner, however, we didn't make too many changes for this update.

Dragon's Maze is already in Gatherer, as well as the Oracle changes detailed within. The Comprehensive Rules are undergoing a full review and editing pass, but we anticipate releasing them on or around May 1.

Let's get into it, shall we? Have fun!

 

Oracle Changes

What is Oracle?

Magic is a game made up of more than 12,000 interchangeable pieces—the cards. Over the years, we've felt the need to update the wordings of older cards, whether because we've introduced a new keyword, or a card was printed with a mistake, or we have a clearer wording for what a card does, etc. Rather than sneak into your room at night and change your cards with a magic marker, we keep a database of the "modern wordings" (what the cards would say if we printed them today) of every tournament-legal card ever printed. These wordings are considered the official wordings of the cards, and accurately reflect their functions.

You can access a card's Oracle wording by looking it up in Gatherer.

Boggart Shenanigans (nonfunctional)

When we introduced the term "dies," one of the things we did was a complete search for the phrase "is put into a graveyard from the battlefield." Turns out, that search may have been a tad overzealous. Although there is no functional difference between "dies" and the longer phrase (in fact, one is the definition of the other), we intended to use "dies" only when we were talking about creatures. It's just better flavor if your artifacts and enchantments aren't dying. But Boggart Shenanigans from a different time, a time when the tribal card type was prominently featured. It's clearly intended to work with noncreature Goblins, like itself for example. So, we're going back to the longer template.

Old wording:

Whenever another Goblin you control dies, you may have Boggart Shenanigans deal 1 damage to target player.

New wording:

Whenever another Goblin you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may have Boggart Shenanigans deal 1 damage to target player.




Gaze of the Gorgon, Glyph of Doom, and Venomous Breath (functional)

These three cards had an unusual timing quirk. As printed, if you cast them after combat, they would each create a delayed triggered ability that would hang around until the next turn. Well, that's weird, and although I doubt anyone played them that way, we needed to clean that up. Their new templates correctly confine that triggered ability to the turn in which you cast them. In addition to that temporal tweak, Glyph of Doom (of Dooooom!) got reworked a bit for clarity.

Gaze of the Gorgon

Old wording:

({o(b/g)} can be paid with either {oB} or {oG}.)

Regenerate target creature. At end of combat, destroy all creatures that blocked or were blocked by that creature this turn.

New wording:

({o(b/g)} can be paid with either {oB} or {oG}.)

Regenerate target creature. At this turn's next end of combat, destroy all creatures that blocked or were blocked by it this turn.

Glyph of Doom

Old wording:

At end of combat, destroy all creatures that were blocked by target Wall this turn.

New wording:

Choose target Wall creature. At this turn's next end of combat, destroy all creatures that were blocked by that creature this turn.

Venomous Breath

Old wording:

Choose target creature. At end of combat, destroy all creatures that blocked or were blocked by it this turn.

New wording:

Choose target creature. At this turn's next end of combat, destroy all creatures that blocked or were blocked by it this turn.




Glyph of Life (nonfunctional)

Since we were looking at the Glyphs, always a treat for the Oracle team, we decided to clean up Glyph of Life's template. Remember, it's not just combat damage that triggers that ability!

Old wording:

Until end of turn, whenever an attacking creature deals damage to target Wall creature, you gain that much life.

New wording:

Choose target Wall creature. Whenever that creature is dealt damage by an attacking creature this turn, you gain that much life.




Lantern of Insight (nonfunctional)

Nine other cards use the plural to indicate that all players play with some cards revealed, either their hands or the top card of their libraries. Lantern of Insight was the only outlier.

Old wording:

Each player plays with the top card of his or her library revealed.

{oT}, Sacrifice Lantern of Insight: Target player shuffles his or her library.

New wording:

Players play with the top card of their libraries revealed.

{oT}, Sacrifice Lantern of Insight: Target player shuffles his or her library.




River Kelpie (nonfunctional)

You know how many cards said "is put onto the battlefield" before this update? Just River Kelpie. We brought it in line with the standard template, as seen on the only Magic card named after me except Loafing Giant: Treacherous Pit-Dweller.

Old wording:

Whenever River Kelpie or another permanent is put onto the battlefield from a graveyard, draw a card.

Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, draw a card.

Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

New wording:

Whenever River Kelpie or another permanent enters the battlefield from a graveyard, draw a card.

Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, draw a card.

Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)




Temporal Distortion (nonfunctional)

The middle ability was potentially confusing with respect to number.

Old wording:

Whenever a creature or land becomes tapped, put an hourglass counter on it.

Permanents with hourglass counters on them don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.

At the beginning of each player's upkeep, remove all hourglass counters from permanents that player controls.

New wording:

Whenever a creature or land becomes tapped, put an hourglass counter on it.

Each permanent with an hourglass counter on it doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.

At the beginning of each player's upkeep, remove all hourglass counters from permanents that player controls.




Your Will Is Not Your Own (nonfunctional)

There's nothing you can do about it now, so I'll tell you my master plan. The two keywords granted by this scheme usually appear in the opposite order. So I've reversed them. Diabolical!

Old wording:

When you set this scheme in motion, gain control of target creature an opponent controls until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gets +3/+3 and gains haste and trample until end of turn.

New wording:

When you set this scheme in motion, gain control of target creature an opponent controls until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gets +3/+3 and gains trample and haste until end of turn.

 

Comprehensive Rulebook Changes

What are the Comprehensive Rules? Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have more than 12,000 interchangeable game pieces, you get some freaky interactions. The Comprehensive Rules cover everything the game has ever come up with, from basic game play structure, to every keyword ever, to entire pages dedicated to single bizarre cards (hello, Karn Liberated!). The Comprehensive Rules are, well, comprehensive... but they're also obtuse, unfriendly, and looooong. They're not intended to be a player resource—they're a judge resource, a rules guru resource, and a place to store definitive answers. In fact, I honestly recommend never reading them. For a much friendlier rulebook that is intended to be a player resource, check out the Rules Page and download the Basic Rulebook (2.1 MB PDF). It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames... but you'll never miss them.

107.1b

This rule talks about the numbers used in Magic. The example attached to this rule said a creature with negative power assigned 0 combat damage, which isn't technically correct. It doesn't assign combat damage in that case.

201.3.

This rule covers effects that instruct a player to name a card. Previously, if you wanted to name a split card, you had to name both halves. So, for Meddling Mage's ability, you couldn't say just "Fire," you had to say "Fire and Ice." The casting of either half would be shut down. But the split card rules tell you that it has two sets of characteristics, one for each half. It follows that a split card has two names. When you named "Fire and Ice," you were choosing a name that wasn't actually the name of a spell that could be cast.

This seemed off to me, so I looked for someone who could change that rule. I found such a person: me! Well, me backed up by the rest of the rules team and R&D, but details, right? Now, the names of each half of a split card show up on the list of legal names to choose from. When asked to name a card, you can name half of a split card, but not the whole card. But fused split spells have two names. So, going back to our Meddling Mage example, if you name "Far," then Away could still be cast. Far clearly can't be cast, and you couldn't use fuse and cast Far and Away either. One of the fused split spell's names is Far, and spells with that name can't be cast.

205.3j

Ral is added to the list of Planeswalker types. Hi, Ral!

509.4g

This rule covers the rarely used template "attacks and isn't blocked," which popped up on the Dragon's Maze card Master of Cruelties. Abilities with that trigger condition trigger during the declare blockers step. Unlike abilities that trigger "whenever [a creature] attacks," it doesn't really matter how a creature came to be an attacking creature. It matters only that no blockers were declared for it. If Master of Cruelties is put onto the battlefield attacking before blockers are declared (say, with popular Commander card Kaalia of the Vast), its ability will trigger if goes unblocked. This wasn't completely clear, as you could easily get hung up on the word "attacks" used in both trigger conditions. This rule will now more clearly define how this template works.

701.15f

This new rule is getting tucked into the Search section to cover a very rare interaction. If a search is replaced with a partial search (say, by the one card that does this, Aven Mindcensor), that partial search still counts as a search for any effects that care about that (say, the one created by Veteran Explorer's ability).

702.98b

Renegade Krasis introduces the term "evolves," defined by this new rule as happening when one or more +1/+1 counters are put on it as a result of its evolve ability resolving. The "or more" means if you control Doubling Season, Renegade Krasis's ability will trigger only once.

702.100

Keyword number 100 is fuse. Any guesses what number 200 will be?

708

Section 708 is the split card section. Many rules in this section got updates to account for the new split cards with fuse. There's also a mention here of the new card-naming rules discussed above. When not on the stack, split cards with fuse behave just like other split cards. They have two sets of characteristics, and effects that compare or ask for certain qualities or values get two answers. A fused split spell also has two sets of characteristics, but it has one converted mana cost (the total amount of mana in its two mana costs, regardless of color).

810.10a

This rule governs how effects that need to know how many poison counters a player has behave in Two-Headed Giant games. I added a sentence to clarify that cards like Phyrexian Swarmlord, which need to know how many poison counters your opponents have, count teams and not individual players.

Glossary

There are new entries for fuse and fused split spell.

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