Eighth Edition Rules Update

Posted in Feature on July 8, 2003

By Paul Barclay, TCG Rules Manager

The most current version of the Magic Comprehensive Rules is always available at www.wizards.com/magic/comprules.

Whew. That was a big job. I just deleted 40 megabytes of emails (2,500 of them). That’s two years’ worth of work on the Comprehensive Rulebook and the Oracle card reference. All done. Which means I get to go work on some much more interesting stuff over the next few months.

The Sixth Edition rules system was released back in 1999, amid much public outcry (people couldn’t believe that we were getting rid of such enlightened concepts as “interrupts,” “batches,” “series,” and “Summon” spells). After four years, it’s become universally accepted, and everything’s working just fine. Now, we’re desperately hunting for any improvements we can make. There aren’t many left, but there are some.

In Eighth Edition, we’ve cleaned up land types, streamlined a lot of the rulebook, cleaned up our terminology, and put a lot of work into the glossary. We’ve also made minor changes to Oracle, bringing it into line with the new land type rules, and fixing a few cards that had been broken for a very long time.

The changes to the rules are minor, so these rules changes will go into effect immediately. The new Comprehensive Rulebook should be used for any tournaments from July 1st, 2003. An Oracle update will be released in the next couple of days, to support the new rulebook.

Look for the next update to the rules and Oracle when the Mirrodin set is released. This update will focus entirely on rules to support Mirrodin cards (we have a couple of cards that need a whole lot of support).

Land Types

We’ve made the rules for land types match the rules for creature types. Just like an Timberwatch Elf is “Creature — Elf,” a Forest is “Basic Land — Forest.”

So, why is there a “Basic” in there on the Forest? Well, a Forest has always been a basic land, but we didn’t say that anywhere on the card. So, we decided to make “Basic” just like “Legendary,” and write it on the cards starting with Eighth Edition.

Changing a land’s type now works just like changing a creature’s type. Changing a land’s type doesn’t change its name, just its type and abilities. Of course, changing a land’s type still changes what color of mana it can produce. You can even use Magical Hack to change a basic land’s type, just like you can use Artificial Evolution to change a creature’s type.

If you change a City of Brass into a Forest using a card like Dream Thrush, the City gains the type “Forest,” but it still named “City of Brass.” It loses the ability to tap for any color of mana, and no longer damages you when it becomes tapped. It gains the Forest’s ability to tap for green mana.

The lands which now have subtypes are the five basic lands (these are also basic), the five Snow-Covered Island (they’re basic too), the Planeshift Treva's Ruins, the Urza lands, and Desert. The Urza lands have two types each “Urza’s Mine,” “Urza’s Power-Plant,” and “Urza’s Tower.”

The complete list of land types is:
Desert, Forest, Island, Lair, Mine, Mountain, Plains, Power-Plant, Swamp, Tower, and Urza’s.

Draw Step

One of our aims for this rulebook revision was to streamline some of the areas where the rules weren’t consistent. This area is “things that happen at the start of steps.” Most of the things that happen at the start of steps just, well, just happen. Now, drawing your normal card for the turn works just the same way. It’s not a big change – in fact, most players won’t even notice the change.

If you have cards such as Teferi's Puzzle Box, Sylvan Library or Howling Mine in play, you’ll get to see what your normal card draw is before you put them on the stack.

The other area that we could have changed in this way was the combat damage step. We could have split it into two steps – one for assigning damage and one for dealing it. But we didn’t, mainly because we didn’t want to take away the phrase “damage on the stack”(Here in R&D, we’re big fans of putting damage on the stack – for some people, it’s the highlight of their entire day.)

Type-changing effects

We added a new rule to prevent some of the confusing interactions with type-changing effects. Some type-changing effects would let permanents keep one type, but not all their types. Some wouldn’t let permanents keep any types at all. There are three different card wordings that let permanents keep their original types:

“it’s still a land”
Every card that turns a land into a creature says “it’s still a land.” That’s fine 99% of the time – the lands are only going to be lands. But, what if the land was also an artifact or an enchantment? It doesn’t really make sense that the land stays a land, but stops being an artifact or enchantment.

“in addition to its types”
These cards are obvious – they keep all the types that they previously had. No questions here.

“becomes an artifact creature”
This one’s a little special. Technically, it should be worded just like the lands, which would be “becomes a creature. It’s still an artifact.” But “artifact creature” is a very common type – we even make cards that are artifact creatures all on their own! We eventually decided not to change this template, because players are used to “becomes an artifact creature,” and like it much better.

So, what doesn’t this rule affect? For one, it doesn’t affect Soul Sculptor. But that card’s really weird, so we won’t talk about it. It also doesn’t affect the Hidden Spider from Urza’s Saga set that turn into creatures. They just become creatures, so they’re not covered by this rule. And, it doesn’t affect the Tempest-block Calming Licid.


We took a long look at each rule and decided that there were a lot of rules that were in the wrong place, in the wrong order, or just badly laid out. In the Eighth Edition Comprehensive Rulebook, we’ve solved this by moving those rules to where they should be. If you can’t find a rule where you expect it to be, ask yourself, “Where should this rule be?” You’ll probably find it there.

The biggest changes are:

  • General stuff (rules 104 and 200)
  • Types, Subtypes and Supertypes (rule 212)
  • Delayed Triggered Abilities (now part of rule 404)
  • Declare Attackers Step (rule 308)
  • Declare Blockers Step (rule 309)
  • Targeted Spells and Abilities (rule 415)
  • Text-Changing Effects (rule 418.6)
  • Subgames (rule 506)
  • Also, rule 502.9d now no longer says “ignore this rule,” which is a bit of a shame.


Whenever an activated or triggered ability was put onto the stack, the rules used to call that ability a “psuedospell,” which is a bit of a mouthful. In an amazing leap of logic, we’ve decided to drop the term “psuedospell,” and go for the slightly more sensible “ability” instead. You play an ability, the ability goes onto the stack. Easy!


We now have rules for subgames. Of course, only Shahrazad, from the Arabian Nights expansion, takes advantage of these rules at the moment.

Teferi's Imp


Hot on the heels of subgames, another rule of limited usefulness. Permanents that phase in keep the timestamps they had when they phased out. So, if you were wondering how phasing interacted with timestamps, now you know.

Copiable Values

We used to have a whole raft of terms to describe how continuous effects interacted. We had “printed values,” “initial values,” “current values,” and “final values.” Now we don’t. The only thing we have now is “copiable values,” which are what you would get if you copied it. Everything else is just a value.


We used to have a lot of rules that referred to “cards,” or “permanents,” that really wanted to apply to everything. So, we made sure that they all referred to everything that they could apply to. And then, we tried to read the rulebook. It wasn’t easy. Changing every instance of “spell or ability on the stack, permanent or token in play, or card in any other zone” to “object” helped. A lot. The term is only used in the Comprehensive Rulebook, not on any cards.

Other Stuff

We’ve tweaked a few other areas. If you’re interested, take a look at the rulebook.

Send questions and comments to editor@wizards.com.

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