February 2011 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on January 27, 2011

By Matt Tabak

Senior editor. Game designer. Writer. Bon vivant. Matt wears many hats inside Magic R&D, but they're hard to see as he's so tall.

Come one, come all, to the glorious spectacle that is the Update Bulletin! As we approach springtime in my part of the Multiverse, I am reminded that Magic is, at its heart, a game of change. Formats change. Cards change. Rules change. But through all this, one thing is constant. That constant is, of course, change. So let's get to it.

We have two new keyword abilities thanks to Mirrodin Besieged, one for each side of the war raging between the Mirrans and the Phyrexians. A popular casual format got an overhaul as EDH compleated—er ... completed its evolution into Commander. And we still found time to poke at some existing cards, clarify some existing rules, and hopefully change things for the better.

We're a little light on functional Oracle changes this time. There are two explanations for this: One, Oracle is nearing perfection under my guidance and soon updates will be a thing of the past. Two, there are some substantial proposed changes that I want more time to research before making a move. It's definitely one of those.

Before we dive in, I'd like to send a special shout-out to the many players out there who sent in questions and suggestions regarding the Comprehensive Rulebook or the Oracle wording of certain cards. As most of my time is spent focusing on future sets, it's enormously helpful to have people spot things that I wouldn't be able to. Of particular note is the Rules Theory and Templating forums that are part of our Community site. They may be crazy, but they're good.

Oh! One other thing... I've recently created a mostly-Magic related Twitter feed where others can sign up to hear my insane ramblings in small, bite-sized chunks. If such a thing interests you, you can follow me at @TabakRules.

This Oracle update will go live on January 27. The Comprehensive Rulebook updates will follow shortly thereafter, likely next week. The CR is going through a full editing and review process, so the changes you read about here may change before final publication. See, I told you.

Gargantuan Gorilla, Lim-Dûl's Paladin, Magmasaur
Each of these cards offers you a choice at the beginning of your upkeep: perform some action or sacrifice the permanent with some additional consequence. However, based on the printed wording, that additional consequence shouldn't be contingent on a successful sacrifice. Say you lost control of Magmasaur in response to the triggered ability or it simply left the battlefield. Magmasaur should still do its thing.

There was an additional error with Gargantuan Gorilla. The printed activated ability clearly states "any other target creature," so we're restoring that. Also, we discussed what happens when Gargantuan Gorilla is also a snow Forest, but it turns out to be only hilarious, not relevant.

New Gargantuan Gorilla wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may sacrifice a Forest. If you sacrifice a snow Forest this way, Gargantuan Gorilla gains trample until end of turn. If you don't sacrifice a Forest, sacrifice Gargantuan Gorilla and it deals 7 damage to you.
{oT}: Gargantuan Gorilla deals damage equal to its power to another target creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to Gargantuan Gorilla.

New Lim-Dûl's Paladin wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may discard a card. If you don't, sacrifice Lim-Dûl's Paladin and draw a card.
Whenever Lim-Dûl's Paladin becomes blocked, it gets +6/+3 until end of turn.
Whenever Lim-Dûl's Paladin attacks and isn't blocked, it assigns no combat damage to defending player this turn and that player loses 4 life.

New Magmasaur wording
Magmasaur enters the battlefield with five +1/+1 counters on it.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove a +1/+1 counter from Magmasaur. If you don't, sacrifice Magmasaur and it deals damage equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it to each creature without flying and each player.

Phyrexian Gremlins
With the reintroduction of the Gremlin creature type in Mirrodin Besieged, the long-lost Phyrexian Gremlins is now a Creature — Gremlin.

Venarian Gold
As printed, the sleep counters were placed on the enchanted creature, not Venarian Gold. This changed along the way, which changes its functionality with respect to many other cards, including Tatterkite and anything that can move an Aura around. We're returning it to reasonably match its printed wording.

New wording
Enchant creature
When Venarian Gold enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature and put X sleep counters on it.
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step if it has a sleep counter on it.
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, remove a sleep counter from that creature.

Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

Bramble Elemental
A change to accommodate cards like Fallowsage and Veteran of the Depths had an unintended consequence with regards to Bramble Elemental. Rule 603.2d states that a trigger event that includes the word "becomes," like Bramble Elemental's, doesn't trigger when an object enters the battlefield in that state. This means that Auras that enter the battlefield attached to Bramble Elemental wouldn't trigger it under its previous wording. That's clearly not correct or intended, so we're beefing up the trigger condition to accommodate.

New wording
Whenever an Aura becomes attached to Bramble Elemental or enters the battlefield attached to Bramble Elemental, put two 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.

Cabal Conditioning, Reward the Faithful, Tide of War
Wondering what these three cards could possibly have in common? Subject-verb agreement issues!

New Cabal Conditioning wording
Any number of target players each discard a number of cards equal to the highest converted mana cost among permanents you control.

New Reward the Faithful wording
Any number of target players each gain life equal to the highest converted mana cost among permanents you control.

New Tide of War wording
Whenever one or more creatures block, flip a coin. If you win the flip, each blocking creature is sacrificed by its controller. If you lose the flip, each blocked creature is sacrificed by its controller.

Coalition Relic, Hankyu, Molten Hydra
These three cards had nonstandard ways of referring to their counters and the way in which they were removed.

New Coalition Relic wording
{oT}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
{oT}: Put a charge counter on Coalition Relic.
At the beginning of your precombat main phase, remove all charge counters from Coalition Relic. Add one mana of any color to your mana pool for each charge counter removed this way.

New Hankyu wording
Equipped creature has "{oT}: Put an aim counter on Hankyu" and "{oT}, Remove all aim counters from Hankyu: This creature deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of aim counters removed this way."
Equip {o4} ({o4}: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery.)

New Molten Hydra wording
{o1oRoR}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Molten Hydra.
{oT}, Remove all +1/+1 counters from Molten Hydra: Molten Hydra deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of +1/+1 counters removed this way.

The other four Volvers refer to themselves as "it" on the second time. For some reason (rampant egomania?), Degavolver deviated. Back in line!

New wording
Kicker {o1oB} and/or {oR} (You may pay an additional {o1oB} and/or {oR} as you cast this spell.)
If Degavolver was kicked with its {o1oB} kicker, it enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it and with "Pay 3 life: Regenerate Degavolver."
If Degavolver was kicked with its {oR} kicker, it enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it and with first strike.

Scourge "Dragon" Auras, Fierce Empath, Krosan Drover, Kurgadon
These eight cards referred to a converted mana cost of 6 "or more" instead of the now-standard "or greater."

New Dragon Breath wording (with a similar update for the other four "Dragon" Auras)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has haste.
{oR}: Enchanted creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
When a creature with converted mana cost 6 or greater enters the battlefield, you may return Dragon Breath from your graveyard to the battlefield attached to that creature.

New Fierce Empath wording
When Fierce Empath enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost 6 or greater, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

New Krosan Drover wording
Creature spells you cast with converted mana cost 6 or greater cost {o2} less to cast.

New Kurgadon wording
Whenever you cast a creature spell with converted mana cost 6 or greater, put three +1/+1 counters on Kurgadon.

Discordant Spirit
The counters should be removed "from" Discordant Spirit.

New wording
At the beginning of each end step, if it's an opponent's turn, put a +1/+1 counter on Discordant Spirit for each 1 damage dealt to you this turn.
At the beginning of your end step, remove all +1/+1 counters from Discordant Spirit.

Elixir of Immortality
We promised some errata to this M11 card back in the July update, but it got lost in the handoff between Mark Gottlieb and myself. As a reminder, it clarifies what happens when you activate the ability of an Elixir of Immortality you control but don't own. Rule 400.3 answers the question with the printed wording, but as Mark said back in July, we don't like relying on players to know that rule.

New wording
{o2}, {oT}: You gain 5 life. Shuffle Elixir of Immortality and your graveyard into their owner's library.

Enlistment Officer and other "bottom of your library" cards
We found a group of cards that put more than one card on the bottom of your library without including the helpful phrase "in any order."

New Enlistment Officer wording
First strike
When Enlistment Officer enters the battlefield, reveal the top four cards of your library. Put all Soldier cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Other affected cards: Flash of Insight, Impulse, Kavu Howler, Prophetic Bolt, Sylvan Messenger, Tidal Courier

Ersatz Gnomes
Other cards that make a spell or permanent colorless use the friendlier verb "becomes," and we think this one should too.

New wording
{oT}: Target spell becomes colorless.
{oT}: Target permanent becomes colorless until end of turn.

Feast or Famine & Ritual of the Machine
More cards use the targeting restriction "nonartifact, nonblack" than the reverse, so we'll bring these two cards in line as well.

New Feast or Famine wording
Choose one — Put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield; or destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature and it can't be regenerated.

New Ritual of the Machine wording
As an additional cost to cast Ritual of the Machine, sacrifice a creature.
Gain control of target nonartifact, nonblack, creature.

Greater Werewolf
Even more gruesome than the art on this card is the fact that it's trying to put a single -0/-2 counter on all those creatures! Changing it to "each" should take care of that problem.

New wording
At end of combat, put a -0/-2 counter on each creature blocking or blocked by Greater Werewolf.

There were two small issues with this card: the creatures only blocked by the enchanted creature becoming unblocked is clearly only supposed to happen if you pay the . But having it as its own sentence confused that issue, so it's being folded into the preceding sentence. Also, the sentence that tells you the consequences of not paying referred to the cost again, which is unusual.

New wording
Enchant creature
Whenever a player activates an ability of enchanted creature with {oT} in its activation cost that isn't a mana ability, you may pay {o1}. If you do, counter that ability. If you don't, destroy Imprison.
Whenever enchanted creature attacks or blocks, you may pay {o1}. If you do, tap the creature, remove it from combat, and creatures it was blocking that had become blocked by only that creature this combat become unblocked. If you don't, destroy Imprison.

Invigorate, Reverent Silence, Skyshroud Cutter
We created a slightly clearer template for these cards that allow other plays to gain life as an alternative cost.

New Invigorate wording
If you control a Forest, rather than pay Invigorate's mana cost, you may have an opponent gain 3 life.
Target creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

New Reverent Silence wording
If you control a Forest, rather than pay Reverent Silence's mana cost, you may have each other player gain 6 life.
Destroy all enchantments.

New Skyshroud Cutter wording
If you control a Forest, rather than pay Skyshroud Cutter's mana cost, you may have each other player gain 5 life.

Last-Ditch Effort
We're going to simplify this one a bit and bring it closer to Landslide.

New wording
Sacrifice any number of creatures. Last-Ditch Effort deals that much damage to target creature or player.

Pyre Zombie
Because it uses an intervening-if clause, Pyre Zombie's triggered ability can only trigger if Pyre Zombie is in your graveyard both when it triggers and when it resolves. This makes restating where you are returning it from redundant.

New wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, if Pyre Zombie is in your graveyard, you may pay {o1oBoB}. If you do, return Pyre Zombie to your hand.
{o1oRoR}, Sacrifice Pyre Zombie: Pyre Zombie deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

Rise from the Grave
When we made the change on cards to say you're returning a card "from the graveyard" instead of "in the graveyard," we forgot to include this card. This is especially weird as the change is pretty much spelled out in the card's name!

New wording
Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. That creature is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types.

Like other equipment that can trigger multiple times for successive equipped creatures going to the graveyard from the battlefield, Skullclamp should also use "whenever."

New wording
Equipped creature gets +1/-1.
Whenever equipped creature is put into a graveyard, draw two cards.
Equip {o1} ({o1}: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card enters the battlefield unattached and stays on the battlefield if the creature leaves.)

Sokenzan Renegade, Thoughtbound Primoc
These two cards were given the same treatment we gave Wild Dogs and friends. This clarifies who ultimately ends up controlling the creature if the player with the most life (or creatures or cards in hand, etc.) when the ability triggers isn't the same player when the ability resolves.

New Sokenzan Renegade wording
Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, if a player has more cards in hand than each other player, the player who has the most cards in hand gains control of Sokenzan Renegade.

New Thoughtbound Primoc wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, if a player controls more Wizards than each other player, the player who controls the most Wizards gains control of Thoughtbound Primoc.

Transmute Artifact
In the last update, I made a typo. In this update, I fix a typo!

New wording
Sacrifice an artifact. If you do, search your library for an artifact card. If that card's converted mana cost is less than or equal to the sacrificed artifact's converted mana cost, put it onto the battlefield. If it's greater, you may pay {oX}, where X is the difference. If you do, put it onto the battlefield. If you don't, put it into its owner's graveyard. Then shuffle your library.

There was a typo in the cross-reference to leveler cards.

This rule was enhanced. Not only can you not change a target to an illegal target, but you also can't change a target such that another target becomes illegal. For example, consider Searing Blaze. You clearly can't change the target creature to a creature the targeted player doesn't control as it would be an illegal target. But what about changing the targeted player? Nothing in the targeting phrase stops you, but it causes the creature to then become an illegal target. This rule now prevents that weirdness.

Long ago, this rule (along with 615.5) was added to handle Swans of Bryn Argoll. Later changes correctly reclassified the last sentence of Swans as not a replacement ability, but this inadvertently broke the tie between the two rules. We're adding "and prevention effects" to 120.7 to reestablish that connection.

The new vocabulary term "poisoned," meaning "having one or more poison counters," is introduced.

Gremlin is lovingly welcomed back to the list of creature types.

This rule previously referred to effects that changed a land's subtype to one of the basic land types. Now, the effect only has to set a basic land type, no necessarily change it. For example, if Spreading Seas were attached to a Mystifying Maze, the land would lose its abilities, become an Island, and inherently be able to tap for . But if the enchanted land were a Moonring Island (a nonbasic land with the Island subtype), you could interpret the rule such that the land wouldn't lose its abilities. This seems wildly unintuitive, so it's being changed.

508.1d, 509.1c
These rules dealt with requirements to attack or block. Instead of exempting tapped creatures and creatures with unpaid costs to attack or block if an effect requires them to, the rule now simply states that paying such costs is never required. Say I control Berserkers of Blood Ridge and you control Ghostly Prison and a planeswalker. Before, I could just not attack without disobeying any requirements. Now, I can either pay and attack you or pay nothing and attack your planeswalker, which is a more intuitive result.

This rule was added to clarify that the order in which you apply continuous effects may change midstream if a new dependency (or independency) is created.

This rule was strengthened to emphasize that a replacement effect applies only once to any given event, including modified events it may become.

This rule was created to handle the case where a nonempty set of objects would be shuffled into a library but are instead moved to another zone. This could happen with one of the Fifth Dawn Beacons or Mirrodin Besieged Zeniths cast with flashback. Subsequent rules were renumbered.

The new Mirran ability battle cry is added to the rulebook so it can, you know ... work.

The new Phyrexian ability living weapon is added to the rulebook so it can, you know ... start terrifying and subjugating the populace.

A new rule changing how certain copy effects interact with characteristic-defining abilities. Before, if a copy effect didn't copy a certain characteristic, it still copied any CDAs defining that characteristic, which led to some weird results. Consider a Vesuvan Doppelganger copying a Transguild Courier. The Doppelganger says it doesn't copy color, but this is effectively ignored because it picks up Transguild Courier's CDA. Now, it'll still copy that ability (so Muraganda Petroglyphs doesn't mess anything up), but you won't consider it when determining the Doppelganger's characteristics.

This rule was intended to clean up copies of spells and other objects on the stack when an effect ends the turn. Unfortunately, it was worded in such a way that swept up emblems as well. Clearly unintentional, so command zone gets added to keep them safe.

This rule should use "assigned" instead of "dealt."

808.1, 811.5
Each was missing a period.

The casual format previously known as EDH is now known as Commander. In this format, your deck is led by a legendary creature previously known as a general and now known as a commander. This caused terminology changes to numerous rules. In addition, the following changes were made:

This rule introduces the concept of color identity. Color identity is a set of colors derived from your chosen commander before the game begins. It includes any colors of the card itself, including characteristic-defining abilities, and (in an extension from previous EDH rules) the color of any mana symbols found in the commander's mana cost or rules text.

Color identity is now revealed to all players when you put your general in the command zone as the game begins and it can't change throughout the game. Under the old rules, if your then-general was on the battlefield and changed color, it affected what color mana you were allowed to produce. This was insane and incorrect.

So, Bosh, Iron Golem fans can rejoice: he (it?) is no longer excommunicated from being a commander and can lead a red deck.

Subsequent rules were renumbered.

This rule, defining what cards could be played in a Commander deck, was rewritten slightly to include the color identity concept.

This rule broadened to include not just basic lands but any land with a basic land type. Previously, the original "dual lands" were not excluded from a deck if one color of mana it could produce was not in the commander's color identity.

Glossary: Active Player, Nonactive Player Order
An extra period was removed.

Glossary: Battle Cry
Definition added for Mirrodin Besieged release.

Glossary: Color Identity
Added for Commander rules overhaul.

Glossary: Commander
Added to define both the casual format previously known as EDH and the card used to lead decks in that format.

Glossary: EDH
Now labeled as an obsolete term.

Glossary: General
Second definition now labeled as obsolete.

Glossary: Living Weapon
Definition added for Mirrodin Besieged release.

Glossary: Poisoned
Definition added for Mirrodin Besieged release.

Legal Text
It's now 2011. Hooray!

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