Gatecrash Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on January 28, 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.

I was discussing the role of Magic rules manager with my boss the other day when we happened upon the following analogy: Magic is like a car. Different people love different things about them both. Some may focus on performance and power. To others, aesthetics is the key—flashy rims, plush interior, maybe some sweet promo foil cards. Another thing Magic and cars have in common is that you don't necessarily need to know every detail about how they work in order to enjoy them. I know that when I turn the steering wheel, the car turns. I don't know exactly why that happens. I don't know what connects to what and so on, but that's okay. I can enjoy driving all the same.

The Magic rules are designed in a similar way. Even if you don't fully understand how different continuous effects interact with one another, you can still figure out most situations, play the game, and have a good time. But, with every new release, we pop the hood and tinker a bit with some cards from the past and with the rules themselves. A tune-up, if you will.

As you read this, Gatecrash has already appeared in Gatherer and the FAQ has been released. The Comprehensive Rules will be posted likely sometime next week. It's undergoing a final review and editing pass. There weren't too many Oracle changes this time around. Instead of separating them into functional and nonfunctional changes, they're all listed together.

Updates like this wouldn't be possible without the care and attention of our players, judges, and tournament organizers worldwide who notice something may not be right with a card or rule and let me know about it. I can be reached on Twitter (@TabakRules) or by responding to this article using the link below. Have fun!

New template: Searching for multiple cards with a specific quality (nonfunctional)

There's a rule that says if you're searching a library for cards with a specific quality, you don't have to find those cards, even if they're present in the library. Many players and judges call this the "fail to find" rule. For example, if you were searching your library for a creature card, but there were none in your library, without that rule a judge would have to confirm that you couldn't find what you were looking for.

The problem is that with some cards not finding what you're looking for can actually be an advantage. Take Gifts Ungiven. A popular way to use this card is to just find two cards, not the full four. Because the card has you searching for cards with different names, the "specific quality" mentioned above, this is perfectly legal. Those two cards end up in your graveyard, but this isn't so much a drawback for Reanimator decks and the like. But it's easy to see that some players who don't know the rule would think this was suspect. So we're adding a helpful, non-functional "up to" on these cards, so even if you don't know the rule, the card's text will lead you to the right conclusion.

Note that if you're instructed to search for some number of cards, with no specific qualities stated, you are required to find that number of cards if possible, so cards like Intuition are unaffected by this update.

Affected Cards:

Everbark Shaman
Far Wanderings
Gifts Ungiven
Kodama's Reach
Natural Balance
Primal Growth
Rites of Spring

Old wording:
Same as the new wording, minus the "up to."

New wording:
Same as the old wording, plus the "up to."

See Gatherer for specific wordings. Man, Update Bulletins after the changes go live are fun!




New template: Abilities that care about creatures with at least one of multiple creature types (nonfunctional)

Some cards have abilities that give a bonus to a creature if it has at least one of multiple listed creature types. Take Auriok Steelshaper. The "and/or" construction can be confusing. What if the creature is both a Soldier and a Knight? Does it get the bonus twice? It was unclear. We came up with a new template that hopefully will make this unambiguous.

Affected cards:

Auriok Steelshaper

Old wording:
Equip costs you pay cost {o1} less. As long as Auriok Steelshaper is equipped, Soldier and/or Knight creatures you control get +1/+1.

New wording:
Equip costs you pay cost {o1} less.
As long as Auriok Steelshaper is equipped, each creature you control that's a Soldier or a Knight gets +1/+1.

Howlpack Alpha

Old wording:
Other Werewolf and Wolf creatures you control get +1/+1. At the beginning of your end step, put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield. At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform Howlpack Alpha.

New wording:
Each other creature you control that's a Werewolf or a Wolf gets +1/+1.
At the beginning of your end step, put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield.
At the beginning of each upkeep, if a player cast two or more spells last turn, transform Howlpack Alpha

Immerwolf

Old wording:
Intimidate (This creature can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.) Other Wolf and Werewolf creatures you control get +1/+1. Non-Human Werewolves you control can't transform.

New wording:
Intimidate (This creature can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.)
Each other creature you control that's a Wolf or a Werewolf gets +1/+1.
Non-Human Werewolves you control can't transform.

Lovisa Coldeyes

Well, Lovisa was a bit weird. In fact, she probably deserves her own section. See below.

Pallid Mycoderm

Old wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a spore counter on Pallid Mycoderm. Remove three spore counters from Pallid Mycoderm: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield. Sacrifice a Saproling: Fungus and/or Saproling creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

New wording:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a spore counter on Pallid Mycoderm.
Remove three spore counters from Pallid Mycoderm: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token onto the battlefield.
Sacrifice a Saproling: Each creature you control that's a Fungus or a Saproling gets +1/+1 until end of turn.




Lovisa Coldeyes (functional)

Originally printed in Coldsnap, Lovisa united the Barbarian, Warrior, and Berserker tribes into a massive frenzy of beatdown. She was a Human Lord, but we've since eliminated Lord as a supported creature type. At the time, it felt weird for her to be a Human with no class (you know what I mean), so she was given an appropriate job: Barbarian. But wait a minute, she gave bonuses to Barbarians, and she wasn't meant to give herself a bonus without some help, so she needed new rules text. So then she affected other Barbarians, Warriors, and Berserkers. Well, with the new template concerning multiple creature types, this got even more awkward.

A few options were debated, but we ultimately decided to just return her as close as possible to her original printing. Lord was a lost cause, but we've become increasingly comfortable with Creature – Human, and that felt like the best way to go. By the way, check out her flavor text. She crushes contraptions! What's not to love?

Old type line:
Creature – Human Barbarian

Old wording:
Warrior, Berserker, and/or other Barbarian creatures get +2/+2 and have haste.

New type line:
Creature – Human

New wording:
Each creature that's a Barbarian, a Warrior, or a Berserker gets +2/+2 and has haste.




Cruel Fate (nonfunctional)

An errant comma was removed.

Old wording:
Look at the top five cards of target opponent's library. Put one of those cards into that player's graveyard, and the rest on top of his or her library in any order.

New wording:
Look at the top five cards of target opponent's library. Put one of those cards into that player's graveyard and the rest on top of his or her library in any order.




Darksteel Ingot (nonfunctional)

There are several versions of the indestructible reminder text, and somehow Darksteel Ingot ended up with the wrong version. Our current policy says not to mention how damage may or may not affect an indestructible permanent that isn't a creature. The indestructible reminder text policy has evolved over the years, and this probably isn't the only card that could use an update. However, it's the most glaring, so it gets a fix this time around.

Old wording:
Darksteel Ingot is indestructible. ("Destroy" effects and lethal damage don't destroy it.) {oT}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

New wording:
Darksteel Ingot is indestructible. (Effects that say "destroy" don't destroy it.)
{oT}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.




Hypersonic Dragon (nonfunctional)

If an ability affects when you cast a spell or from what zone you can cast it from, it should refer to the "card," as it has to apply before you start the casting process. If an ability affects the cost to cast a spell, it should say "spell," as it applies once the card is already on the stack (and thus, a spell). Hypersonic Dragon inadvertently fell on the wrong side of the line.

Old wording:
Flying, haste
You may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash. (You may cast them any time you could cast an instant.)

New wording:
Flying, haste
You may cast sorcery cards as though they had flash. (You may cast them any time you could cast an instant.)




Ink-Treader Nephilim (functional… maybe? Who knows how it worked before?)

Rule 114.8 talks about three specific templates we use when we need to check what a spell or ability is targeting. And I mean specific. There are quotes and everything. Ink-Treader Nephilim had a unique template that didn't conform to any of them, so it wasn't entirely clear how it was supposed to behave if it wasn't on the battlefield when its triggered ability tried to resolve. With the new template, the answer is clear. If Ink-Treader Nephilim isn't on the battlefield when its triggered ability tries to resolve, no copies of the spell will be created.

This is only tangentially relevant to this change, but here's a fun Ink-Treader Nephilim fact: Ink-Treader Nephilim can be targeted by an instant or sorcery spell multiple times, as long as it's the only target, and the spell will be copied. Common Bond is a great choice, and it's even in the Nephilim's colors!

Old wording:
Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, if Ink-Treader Nephilim is the only target of that spell, copy the spell for each other creature that spell could target. Each copy targets a different one of those creatures.

New wording:
Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, if that spell targets only Ink-Treader Nephilim, copy the spell for each other creature that spell could target. Each copy targets a different one of those creatures.




Vanish into Memory (nonfunctional)

The "its" in the last sentence was too ambiguous. The closest antecedent is "card," which could mistakenly point you to the card in exile. You're supposed to discard cards equal to the new creature's toughness when the delayed triggered ability resolves, and hopefully this new template is a tad clearer.

Old wording:
Exile target creature. You draw cards equal to that creature's power. At the beginning of your next upkeep, return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control. If you do, discard cards equal to its toughness.

New wording:
Exile target creature. You draw cards equal to that creature's power. At the beginning of your next upkeep, return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control. If you do, discard cards equal to that creature's toughness.




We fixed some style errors throughout the document that were causing some incorrect indentations.

106.6

Added a sentence to this rule to clarify that if there's a restriction on how mana can be spent and that restriction is based on an undefined choice, that mana can't be spent. See also the changes to 706.7a.

112.3c

Minor change to clarify that while triggered abilities all include the word "when," "whenever," or "at," they don't always begin with that word.

205.3j

Domri added to the list of Planeswalker types.

207.2c

Battalion and bloodrush added to the list of ability words.

306.5a

This rule defined the loyalty of a Planeswalker not on the battlefield but should say "Planeswalker card."

401.5a

This rule says that if you draw a card while another spell is being cast or another ability is being activated, that card is kept face down until you finish casting the spell or activating the ability. Added a sentence to clarify that if an effect (such as miracle) allows or instructs you to reveal the card as it's being drawn, it's revealed after the spell is cast or the ability is activated.

406.3

This rule covers how you cast a face-down card in exile, but really it should say play, as cards like Praetor's Grasp can let you play a face down, exiled land card.

506.4d

This rule explains how a permanent that's both a blocking creature and a Planeswalker that's being attacked is removed from combat only if it stops being a creature and a Planeswalker. Well, there are other ways to remove such a permanent from combat (say, by regenerating it), so the slightly inaccurate "only" is being removed.

607.1

This rule covers linked abilities, defined as two abilities printed on an object such that one of them causes actions to be taken or objects to be affected and the other one directly refers to those actions or objects. Technically, players could also be affected by a pair of linked abilities (such as the ones printed on Stuffy Doll), so the rule is getting tweaked to reflect that.

611.2c

This rule helps define the set of objects that is affected by a continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability. If the effect modifies the characteristics or changes the controller of any objects, the set is determined when the effect begins and doesn't change. For example, if you cast Glorious Charge, only creatures you control when it resolves get the bonus. If you cast a creature later that turn, or gain control of a creature later that turn, that creature doesn't get the bonus. However, if that continuous effect doesn't modify the characteristics of or change control of any objects, the set isn't locked in. For example, if you cast Fog, all combat damage dealt that turn will be prevented. It doesn't matter whether the creature dealing the damage was on the battlefield when Fog resolved or not.

Here's where the change comes in. Rarely, a continuous effect will do both: one part will modify characteristics and another part won't. Teleportal cast with overload is a good example. In cases like this, the set of objects each part affects is determined independently. Only creatures on the battlefield when Teleportal resolves will get +1/+0, but every creature you control (including ones that show up after Teleportal resolves) will be unblockable.

614.12a

This is a new rule that states if a replacement effect modifies how a permanent enters the battlefield and requires a choice, that choice is made before the permanent changes zones. Hopefully, this clarifies what happens if you control Future Sight and the top card of your library is Stomping Ground. (You choose whether to pay 2 life before seeing the next card.)

615.2

Fixed a typo by changing "preventions effects" to "prevention effects."

700.6

This rule is the definition of the term "dies." I removed the sentence that explained when it was used because it wasn't really a rule. It was just a templating guideline, and some people found this confusing. For example, if a creature with an ability that triggers when it dies is turned into a noncreature and is then destroyed, the ability will trigger.

702.18b, first example

The word "and" was missing from the first sentence.

702.94a

Remember when I said an ability that affected the cost of a spell applied to that spell on the stack (if, for no other reason, because spells don't exist anywhere else)? Yeah, well, the rules for overload didn't get that memo. They used to say the part of overload that let you cast it for its overload cost applied in any zone in which the spell with overload could be cast. That's not correct. It applies on the stack.

702.97

The new rules for an ability I can't tell you about, created by a guild I can't tell you about. Okay, it's cipher.

702.98

The new rules for evolve.

702.99

The new rules for extort.

702.100

Nope, not yet. But soon!

706.7a

Say you have a pair of linked abilities, and one of them asks you to choose a value or name a card, and the second one refers to that choice. This rule explains that if the first ability is copied, the choice isn't remembered and can't be used for other abilities that may copy it later. For example, if a creature becomes a copy of Voice of All (as opposed to entering the battlefield as a copy of it, in which case you can choose a color), there's no choice of color for the copy, so its protection ability doesn't do anything. Specifically, the rule said "If an ability refers to an undefined choice, that part of the ability won't do anything." But "won't do anything" was pretty vague. For example, let's say you have a Thespian's Stage that's a copy of Cavern of Souls. No choice of creature type was made for Thespian's Stage, so that part of the ability won't do anything. I imagine four reasonable interpretations of this:

  • The restriction of having to spend that mana on a spell of a particular creature type doesn't apply. You can spend this mana on any spell, and it can't be countered.
  • The whole last sentence doesn't apply. You can spend the mana on any spell. It can be countered.
  • The whole ability doesn't apply. You can't activate it.
  • The effect doesn't apply. You can activate it, but it won't produce mana.

So, we're cleaning up the rule a bit to simply say the choice of creature type for the Thespian's Stage is undefined. Also, rule 106.6 clarifies what can be done with mana that can be spent only on a restriction based on an undefined choice. (It can't be spent.)

709.1c

This rule told you that a flip card's color, mana cost, expansion symbol, illustration credit, and legal text don't change if the permanent is flipped. But who cares about the last two? They're not game-relevant.

901.10

When I wrote the rules information for Planechase (2012 Edition), I indicated that abilities from phenomena would stay on the stack if their controller left the game. Control would just pass to the new planar controller. That really sounds fun, but I completely forgot to actually put that in the rules. Oops.

So, now that's the rule. Maybe you've been playing it this way along. Maybe you weren't and now you will. Maybe you still play with interrupts and damage prevention windows and I can take my newfangled rules and shove them. Since Planechase is a casual format, I'm sure a lot of variation exists. But, this was an error that needed to be corrected, and now it has been.

As a side note, the FAQ also indicated that chaos abilities would also remain on the stack. We decided that isn't actually what we wanted, so this change wasn't made.

New glossary entries: cipher, encoded, evolve, extort.

Some minor legal text updates were also made.

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