June 2011 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on June 10, 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.

Surprise! The original plan was that you wouldn't be hearing from me until the Magic 2012 Oracle update, but Magic: The Gathering Commander brought some interesting changes, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to walk you through them. We limited the card updates this time around to the new cards in this product, cards receiving new templates involving hexproof, and two fixes for minor errors we discovered after the New Phyrexia update. There are also a handful of changes to the Comprehensive Rulebook, mostly involving the Commander format and a few tweaks to Phyrexian mana. As always, many thank to the dedicated players, judges, and organizers around the world who make Magic such a fantastic game to be a part of.

This round of Oracle updates will appear in Gatherer on or around June 15. The Comprehensive Rulebook updates are currently going through the editing and review process, meaning things in the final version may differ from what I talk about here. That update will be posted sometime during the week of June 13.

Have fun!

Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rulebook Changes


The largest change this time around is the introduction of a new keyword: hexproof. Well, it's not completely new. It's a shiny new name for an existing ability. Hexproof on a permanent means, "This permanent can't be the target of spells and abilities your opponents control." Hexproof on a player means "You can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control." The following cards have been updated:

Notably absent from this list are Canopy Cover, Shielding Plax, Veilstone Amulet, and Vines of Vastwood. For the first two, it's the opponents of the Aura's controller that can't target the creature in question. If you enchant a creature an opponent controls with one of those two, it's that opponent who can't target the creature. If those Auras granted hexproof to the enchanted creature in these cases, the functionality of these cards would be reversed.

Veilstone Amulet and Vines of Vastwood have a similar problem. In some cases, a different player ends up being able to target the affected creature(s) than would be able to if those cards gave the creatures hexproof.

Veilstone Amulet
Vines of Vastwood

There was a fierce internal debate as to what the name of this keyword should ultimately be, but sadly the proponents of "Urilshroud" were vanquished.

Ebon Praetor, Sanguine Praetor

Unfortunately, due to... (spins Wheel of Blame)... the rain, I inadvertently stripped both Praetors of their printed creature type (Avatar) when Praetor was introduced as a creature type in New Phyrexia. Now, their type lines read Creature — Avatar Praetor. And before you ask, we looked at Hand of Justice. We sympathize, but it's not a Praetor.

Ebon Praetor
Sanguine Praetor

Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rulebook Changes

This is a new rule explaining when you place your commander in the command zone at the beginning of a Commander game. The Commander section always included this information, but the general section on starting the game mentions similar exceptions for adjusting life totals in various formats, so this addition seemed appropriate.

The rule was beefed up a bit to explicitly tell you that each Phyrexian mana symbol has a color. There was certainly plenty of evidence to lead you to this conclusion before: the rule does refer to each symbol by talking about "its color." But now it's a bit clearer.

Whether a +1/+1 counter on a creature card outside of the battlefield actually adjusted that card's power and toughness was an unanswered question because it couldn't happen. Well, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave has something to say about that! This rule was modified to answer the question.

Oh, you want the answer? Sure! Counters that affect power and/or toughness on a creature card in a zone other than the battlefield will affect that card's power and/or toughness. Skullbriar hanging out in the command zone with three +1/+1 counters on him/her/it is a 4/4 creature card.

Join forces joins forces with the list of ability words.

This rule details some of what a player must do to cast a spell or activate an ability. Specifically, this rule handles choosing modes and using alternative or additional costs. Even more specifically, it now includes that you announce how you intend to pay for each Phyrexian mana symbol in the cost of the spell you are casting or ability you are activating.

It was our intention that this choice be made at the same time you make a similar choice for hybrid mana symbols. Unfortunately, this was overlooked in the New Phyrexia update. In practice, this choice was usually made by players at the intended time. So, no harm, no foul. But, because it was not an explicit choice between life or mana, some players were led to a false conclusion concerning what you actually paid to cast a spell with Phyrexian mana.

To be clear, a Phyrexian mana symbol represents a cost that can be paid either by spending mana or paying life. If you choose to pay 2 life to cast Surgical Extraction, for example, you have not spent any mana to do so, so it could be countered by Nix. Similarly, Trinisphere will see that you are casting a spell that costs fewer than three mana and changes the cost to and 2 life.

The new term "dies" is defined here. It means "is put into a graveyard from the battlefield" and is used when referring to creatures. Some older cards will receive updated wordings in the mid-July Oracle update. Why put it in the rulebook now? The term shows up on some cards in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (available on June 15, 2011 for Xbox, PS3, and for your PC through Steam).

Look everyone, it's hexproof! Subsequent rules (and many cross-references throughout the Comprehensive Rulebook) were renumbered.

Ownership of cards is determined when the game begins. If you start the game with the card in your deck, you own it. This gets a little fuzzy in a restarted game, so this rule clarifies that if you owned the card in the game that was restarted, you own it in the new game as well, even if Karn Liberated lets you go all Cheatyface with it.

This new rule states that if a player in a Two-Headed Giant game can't get poison counters, no player on that player's team can get poison counters. In effect, it makes Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Platinum Emperion (and other cards like them) work the same way.

The fine folks at mtgcommander.net, including the Commander Rules Committee, get a shout-out here, redirecting players looking for additional information, discussion, and recommended banned lists for the Commander format.

An extraneous "the" was deleted.

This rule explains what cards can be in your Commander deck based on which commander you've chosen. We clarified that you look at a card's colors (as defined by its mana cost or characteristic-defining abilities) and the colors of any colored mana symbols in its mana cost or rules text. All of these colors must be in the commander's color identity. The previous rule accidentally neglected to mention that you looked only at colored mana symbols. Under a strict interpretation, any card with a generic mana symbol in its cost couldn't be in any deck with a colored commander.

This new rule covers situations where a card in a Commander game is exiled face down (due to Praetor's Grasp, for example). If a player is allowed to look at that card, he or she must immediately do so. If the card is a commander, the player turns it face up and moves it to the command zone. This prevents a player from exiling another player's commander face down and abandoning it there for the rest of the game.

Dies entry added.
Hexproof entry added.

Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rulebook Changes

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