Amonkhet Update Bulletin—Oracle Changes

Posted in Feature on April 28, 2017

By Eli Shiffrin

Oracle Changes

Jackals Everywhere (Functional)

The Khenra of Amonkhet asked us very nicely if they could be Jackals instead of Hounds. Don't believe anyone who tells you that they threatened us. They're good dogs. The six Jackals we've printed in the past aren't quite as good (they rate like 11/10 at best) but they get to come along for the ride. Hurr Jackal, Jackal Familiar, Jackal Pup, and Trained Jackal are now Jackals, while Dauthi Jackal is exactly what it says on the tin and Lurking Jackals gets to become a Jackal.

Choose a Card Name (Non-Functional)

Starting with Amonkhet, we've retired the expression "name a card." Now players will be asked to choose a card name, which matches the phrasing that we use in other places when a player must choose something. This change affects 57 cards and doesn't change how any of them function.

For example . . . 

Lost Legacy's old rules text:

Name a nonartifact, nonland card. Search target player's graveyard, hand, and library for any number of cards with that name and exile them. That player shuffles his or her library, then draws a card for each card exiled from hand this way.

Lost Legacy's new rules text:

Choose a nonartifact, nonland card name. Search target player's graveyard, hand, and library for any number of cards with that name and exile them. That player shuffles his or her library, then draws a card for each card exiled from hand this way.

Desperate Research's old rules text:

Name a card other than a basic land card. Then reveal the top seven cards of your library and put all of them with that name into your hand. Exile the rest.

Desperate Research's new rules text:

Choose a card name other than a basic land card name. Reveal the top seven cards of your library and put all of them with that name into your hand. Exile the rest.

Can't Cast Spells or Play Lands (Functional)

While fixing up the name-choosing across the board, we hit Meddling Mage. Meddling Mage stops players from casting the named card. But did you know that it doesn't stop copies of the named card, like those Isochron Scepter creates, from being cast? No one we asked guessed that.

We struggle to not introduce functional changes, but when those functional changes make a card behave exactly the way that most people play with it, we encounter another truth—templating Magic cards is not an exact science and different goals can end up at odds. I don't think we've very directly acknowledged this emergent addendum to the philosophy, so I want to be clear: preserving the function of the card as printed is our number-one goal, but it is not our only goal and it will take the back seat to other goals at times.

In this case, once we knew that we were changing "the named card" to "cards with the chosen name," we decided that it was for the best to go one step further to close this loophole by using "spells with the chosen name." This lines up all references to things that players "can't cast" to now refer to "spells," and not "cards." All references to being unable to play lands similarly say that players can't play "lands" and not "land cards." This definitively removes ambiguity with spells that change type midway through casting, like creatures with bestow.

This series of changes affects fifteen cards in a way that is a functional change but that's invisible to most players. Some cards now prevent Isochron Scepter copies from being cast, and a couple no longer prevent Dryad Arbor from being played. Ward of Bones is the real winner here—the most sensible way to word it under this paradigm was to break its ability into two!

Some examples of the new text:

Meddling Mage's old rules text:

As Meddling Mage enters the battlefield, name a nonland card.

The named card can't be cast.

Meddling Mage's new rules text:

As Meddling Mage enters the battlefield, choose a nonland card name.

Spells with the chosen name can't be cast.

Ward of Bones's old rules text:

Each opponent who controls more creatures than you can't play creature cards. The same is true for artifacts, enchantments, and lands.

Ward of Bones's new rules text:

Each opponent who controls more creatures than you can't cast creature spells. The same is true for artifacts and enchantments.

Each opponent who controls more lands than you can't play lands.

Replace Place with Put in Place's Place (Non-Functional)

There's a sentence you didn't expect to read today. As you may have noticed with Amonkhet's Vizier of Remedies, we've decided to unify counter-putting with a single word. This change is only in the word used. Counters are still put on creatures as they enter the battlefield, when an effect says to put counters, or when a source with wither or infect gets all up in a creature's face. This affects 26 cards, most of which are cards with the tribute keyword, which used "place" in its reminder text. Bloodcrazed Hoplite's a great example of how we used two words to describe the same thing:

Bloodcrazed Hoplite's old rules text:

Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Bloodcrazed Hoplite, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is placed on Bloodcrazed Hoplite, remove a +1/+1 counter from target creature an opponent controls.

Bloodcrazed Hoplite's new rules text:

Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Bloodcrazed Hoplite, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is put on Bloodcrazed Hoplite, remove a +1/+1 counter from target creature an opponent controls.

Tribute's old reminder text:

(As this creature enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice may place N +1/+1 counters on it.)

Tribute's new reminder text:

(As this creature enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice may put N +1/+1 counters on it.)

Cabal Inquisitor and the Questionable Comma (Non-Functional)

Not many cards have activated abilities. Wait, that is not remotely true. Not many cards have activated abilities with spelled-out restrictions on whether you can activate them. Even fewer have multiple such restrictions. Grizzled Wolverine has a whopping three restrictions, so you need commas to separate them. But does Cabal Inquisitor need a comma? Not really.

Cabal Inquisitor's old rules text:

Threshold — {o1oB}, {oT}, Exile two cards from your graveyard: Target player discards a card. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery, and only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.

Cabal Inquisitor's new rules text:

Threshold — {o1oB}, {oT}, Exile two cards from your graveyard: Target player discards a card. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery and only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.

Cephalid Constable's Singularity (Non-Functional)

Cephalid Constable's trigger could bounce many permanents. It could bounce nations of permanents. Continents. Galaxies. But it probably just bounces one permanent. No matter how many permanents, though, they all have one controller, so their owner is in all probability singular, and we express their destination as "their owner's hand." The word choice is only stylistic; this isn't a functional change. If Cephalid Constable deals a whopping 2 damage and targets permanents owned by different players that one player has stolen, those permanents each return to their separate owners' hands.

Cephalid Constable's old rules text:

Whenever Cephalid Constable deals combat damage to a player, return up to that many target permanents that player controls to their owners' hands.

Cephalid Constable's new rules text:

Whenever Cephalid Constable deals combat damage to a player, return up to that many target permanents that player controls to their owner's hand.


Introduction
Comprehensive Rules Changes
Oracle Changes

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