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The archangel Avacyn has returned to Innistrad, and she and her flights of angels now wage a plane-wide war against the monstrous forces that have grown unchecked in her absence. The plane's humans and their angelic allies draw on new kinds of magic, but their enemies have dark spells of their own.
Miracle is a new keyword that allows you to cast some instants and sorceries for very little mana when you draw them.
As you draw an instant or sorcery with miracle, if it's the first card you've drawn this turn, you can immediately reveal it. When you do so, you may cast it for its miracle cost. It doesn't matter whether it's an instant or sorcery; if you choose to cast it, you do so right away, even if it's at a time (such as your draw step) when you couldn't normally cast it. You're not required to reveal a miracle card, even if you could pay for it. You can always choose to just draw it as normal.
You're allowed to cast the first card you draw each turn if it has miracle, so if you find ways to draw cards during your opponent's turn, you get another chance for a game-breaking, miraculous moment.
The new soulbond mechanic lets creatures team up to fight side by side.
When a creature with soulbond enters the battlefield, you may pair it with another unpaired creature you control. When another creature enters the battlefield under your control, if you control a creature with soulbond that isn't currently paired, you may pair it with the new creature.
- The two creatures become unpaired if either of them leaves the battlefield, is no longer under your control, or stops being a creature.
- Abilities—usually abilities on the creature with soulbond—will refer to paired creatures. There are no special rules about paired creatures beyond that. The two creatures still attack separately, block separately, get targeted by spells separately, etc.
- A creature can only be paired with one creature at a time. (In other words, a pair of creatures is always two creatures.)
If you pair two creatures with soulbond, they'll both get both of the abilities they grant. For example, take a look at Silverblade Paladin:
If Silverblade Paladin and Wingcrafter are paired, they'll both have flying and double strike.
There are also a few cards in the set that don't have soulbond that refer to paired creatures.
As with any other targeted spell, Joint Assault will be countered if its target isn't legal when it resolves. (Joint Assault only has one target, even though it may affect multiple creatures.) So if you target a paired creature and it leaves the battlefield, gains protection from green, or otherwise becomes an illegal target, neither creature gets the bonus. If it's still a legal target but the creatures are no longer paired (say, because they're no longer controlled by the same player), only the targeted creature gets the bonus.
The forces of darkness on Innistrad are diminished, but they're far from gone. The sinister undying mechanic returns in Avacyn Restored.
When your undying creature with no +1/+1 counters on it dies, you return it to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. An undying creature that has one or more +1/+1 counters on it when it dies stays in the graveyard as normal.
It doesn't matter where the +1/+1 counters came from, or whether a creature has already come back with a counter on it; all that matters is where the counters are when it dies. If your undying creature gets a +1/+1 counter on it (say, from Hunger of the Howlpack) and then dies, it won't come back, even if that's the first time it died. On the flip side, if you can get that +1/+1 counter off of an undying creature somehow after it comes back, it'll come back yet again the next time it dies. Undying indeed!
If a creature ever has +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters on it, the two kinds of counters immediately "cancel out," one for one, until only one kind of counter remains. For example, a creature with three +1/+1 counters and two -1/-1 counters would end up with one +1/+1 counter. There's a twist, though: If a creature with +1/+1 counters on it gets enough -1/-1 counters to kill it, it dies before the two counters have the chance to cancel out. For example, if your Howlgeist with a +1/+1 counter on it got three -1/-1 counters from Skinrender's "enters the battlefield" ability, the Howlgeist would die with one +1/+1 counter and three -1/-1 counters and wouldn't return to the battlefield.
As the forces of good band together, the monsters of Innistrad get used to fighting on their own. A number of creatures in the set, nicknamed loners, get better when they're the only creature you control.
Demonic Taskmaster is a powerful 4/3 flier for just three mana, but it forces you to sacrifice another creature every turn. But notice what it doesn't say: it doesn't say that anything bad happens if you can't sacrifice anything. If Demonic Taskmaster is the only creature you control, you won't have to sacrifice anything, and it can keep taking your opponent to task.
Flickering is a nickname for exiling something, then returning it to the battlefield.
When you "flicker" a permanent, it's treated as a new card that just entered the battlefield. This can do a lot of interesting things for you.
- Any counters that it had on it, such as +1/+1 counters from undying, will go away (unless the permanent ordinarily enters the battlefield with counters on it, like Djinn of Wishes does).
- Any Auras enchanting the permanent will be put into their owners' graveyards, and any Equipment attached to a creature that gets flickered will "fall off." This can be useful if one of your creatures is enchanted with something nasty like Pacifism.
- If you're able to flicker something as an instant—like Cloudshift does—then any other spells that were targeting that permanent will be countered on resolution. If it's a creature, it will also be removed from combat. Any creatures it was blocking are still blocked, but it won't deal or receive combat damage, and it's no longer an attacking or blocking creature.
- Any "enters the battlefield" abilities it has, as well as any other abilities that trigger when a creature enters the battlefield, will trigger. This includes soulbond abilities—both its own and others—so you can use Cloudshift to suddenly switch up your soulbond pairings, even in the middle of combat!