September 2011 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on September 22, 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.

Greetings, friends, and welcome to another edition of the Update Bulletin. As you may imagine, I've been busy the last few months crafting some rules for Innistrad's exciting new mechanics, including the groundbreaking double-faced cards. It was a significant undertaking, but the cards are more than cool enough to justify it. And for those of you who are in love with the card back, don't worry—it shows up in Innistrad in every color and at every rarity.

Double-faced cards aren't the only exciting thing we're adding this time around. We've got a new characteristic, a new evergreen keyword action, and a new creature type. And we managed to polish the Oracle wording of a few other cards as well. I've mentioned before that Oracle is an exercise in competing priorities. One factor that always carries considerable weight with the rules team is a card's last printed wording. However, we've recently been considering a card's appearance on Magic Online, especially in Masters Edition sets, as well. In many cases, ignoring Magic Online was ignoring the most likely way a new player would become exposed to some older cards, and that felt like a disservice to the Magic community at large.

Like I do in each Update Bulletin, I must take some time to thank the players, judges, organizers, and rules gurus out there that take the time to nominate cards and rules for review. If you'd like to send me a message, you can do so in a few ways: through the forums (I'm WotC_MattT), through Twitter (@TabakRules), or by replying to this article.

As always, the changes I've described here are going through a complete editing and review process, so they may differ from what actually happens. The Card Image Gallery is already up, and the set should be showing up in Gatherer on or around September 22, with the Comprehensive Rules following shortly thereafter. Let's get started!

Color Indicator
Color indicator is a new characteristic introduced on the back face of the double-faced cards. These cards started out with a characteristic-defining ability saying "CARDNAME is [color]." We use this sort of ability most often when we have to define color and don't have a mana cost to rely on. But it's kind of ugly, and no one was really happy having to include it on a group of cards that we knew were going to be in the spotlight.

Well, what if we didn't need that text at all? For most players, the color of the frame loudly and clearly communicates color. You look at a card. It has a red frame. It's red. Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, not so simple. The gold frames used on multicolor cards have considerable equity, so the rules need something other than the frames to point at to define a card's color. Enter the color indicator.

Found just to the left of the type line, the color indicator is a circular symbol that indicates a card's color. It is most often used in the absence of a mana cost. Once we had decided on the color indicator for Innistrad's double-faced cards, we thought about other cards with a color-defining ability. As I said, no one was in love with those lines of text, so in the interest of consistency and aesthetics, we are applying a color indicator the cards listed below. They all will lose the line of rules text that previously defined their colors.

Ancestral Vision
Crimson Kobolds
Crookshank Kobolds
Dryad Arbor
Intervention Pact
Kobolds of Kher Keep
Living End
Pact of Negation
Pact of the Titan
Restore Balance
Slaughter Pact
Summoner's Pact
Transguild Courier
Wheel of Fate

Oh, as to why this is in the functional changes section? Well, there are a few small differences, but we've decided we're comfortable with them. One, they're all losing an ability, so some of those cards will have a newfound appreciation for Muraganda Petroglyphs. Two, cards like Mind Bend that change one color word into another won't affect the color of these cards. Three, Evermind no longer turns the spells it's spliced onto blue. Really, how weird was that? Four, Dryad Arbor behaves a little differently under a Blood Moon. Previously, it would become colorless. No, really. (In layer 4, it becomes a Mountain and thus loses all of its abilities, including the one that would make it green in layer 5.) Now, because color indicator is not an ability it can lose, it remains green. It ain't easy, but we think Dryad Arbor will be just fine.

New Creature Type: Werewolf
Innistrad introduces the creature type Werewolf. These three existing cards seem like good candidates for that creature type. Rumors that we're visiting a plane of werebears and less-than-clean wererats in 2014 are unsubstantiated.

Greater Werewolf
New creature type: Werewolf

Lesser Werewolf
New creature type: Werewolf

Treacherous Werewolf
New creature types: Werewolf Minion

Phyrexian Devourer
This card apparently was intended to never have power greater than 7. Unfortunately, the printed wording didn't quite accomplish this, opening a window to respond to what's now a triggered ability. There was errata on this card for some time that closed this window, but there's really no good reason to keep that, so we're returning that aspect of the card to its printed wording. We talked about the change to use +1/+1 counters but concluded that the reasons for that change are still valid.

New Phyrexian Devourer wording
When Phyrexian Devourer's power is 7 or greater, sacrifice it.
Exile the top card of your library: Put X +1/+1 counters on Phyrexian Devourer, where X is the exiled card's converted mana cost.

Thought Lash & Heart of Bogardan
These two enchantments have a consequence to not paying for their cumulative upkeeps beyond merely sacrificing them. Really, this consequence wants to be stapled onto the cumulative upkeep ability—a trigger within a trigger, if you will. Thought Lash especially wants to refer to the player who didn't pay the cumulative upkeep, not just the player who happened to control the enchantment when the upkeep wasn't paid (sorry, Zedruu the Greathearted).

New Heart of Bogardan wording
Cumulative upkeep {o2} (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
When a player doesn't pay Heart of Bogardan's cumulative upkeep, Heart of Bogardan deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls, where X is twice the number of age counters on Heart of Bogardan minus 2.

New Thought Lash wording
Cumulative upkeep—Exile the top card of your library. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
When a player doesn't pay Thought Lash's cumulative upkeep, that player exiles all cards from his or her library.
Exile the top card of your library: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to you this turn.

Elder Spawn
Spawn is a creature type generally used on creature tokens, but it is a valid creature type. Elder Spawn was actually printed with the creature type Spawn, so there's really no reason not to change it back.

New creature type: Spawn

Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

New Keyword Action: Fight
Fight is a new evergreen term, meaning that it can and will show up outside of the Innistrad block. When two creatures fight, each deals damage equal to its power to the other creature. Looking back, there are actually quite a few cards that are close to fighting but differ in one way or another, so they won't be getting a shiny new template. For two creatures to fight, the damage must be simultaneous and exactly two creatures must be involved.

Here are the ones that are changing:

New Arena wording
{o3}, {oT}: Tap target creature you control and target creature of an opponent's choice he or she controls. Those creatures fight each other. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

New Contested Cliffs wording
{oT}: Add {o1} to your mana pool.
{oRoG}, {oT}: Choose target Beast creature you control and target creature an opponent controls. Those creatures fight each other. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

New Magus of the Arena wording
{o3}, {oT}: Tap target creature you control and target creature of an opponent's choice he or she controls. Those creatures fight each other. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

New Rivals' Duel wording
Choose two target creatures that share no creature types. Those creatures fight each other. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

New Triangle of War wording
{o2}, Sacrifice Triangle of War: Choose target creature you control and target creature an opponent controls. Those creatures fight each other. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)

Hall of the Bandit Lord & Friends
The temporal mechanics on this card always kind of baffled me. If you activate the mana ability outside of casting a creature spell, the mana has this rider kind of hanging onto it waiting for you to spend the mana. Then, when you spend it on a creature spell, it says the creature (which doesn't exist yet) has haste. Hopefully this new wording cleans this up a bit. Also, there are three other cards that put a creature card onto the battlefield that say that creature "has haste." It's technically correct (the best kind of correct) to say it "gains haste."

New Hall of the Bandit Lord wording
Hall of the Bandit Lord enters the battlefield tapped.
{oT}, Pay 3 life: Add {o1} to your mana pool. If that mana is spent on a creature spell, it gains haste.

New Impromptu Raid wording
{o2}{o(r/g)}: Reveal the top card of your library. If it isn't a creature card, put it into your graveyard. Otherwise, put that card onto the battlefield. That creature gains haste. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

New Puppeteer Clique wording
When Puppeteer Clique enters the battlefield, put target creature card from an opponent's graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. It gains haste. At the beginning of your next end step, exile it.
Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

New Treacherous Urge wording
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You may put a creature card from it onto the battlefield under your control. That creature gains haste. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

Rally the Horde
The changes we made to this card in the last update were so amusing that I just wanted to see them again. Okay, not really. Cards that repeat a process shouldn't repeat it until a condition that may never occur. This card did, so we reworked it slightly.

New Rally the Horde wording
Exile the top card of your library. Exile the top card of your library. Exile the top card of your library. If the last card exiled isn't a land, repeat this process. Put a 1/1 red Warrior creature token onto the battlefield for each nonland card exiled this way.

Burning of Xinye
This Portal Three Kingdoms favorite used a confusing template that was misleading as to who made choices and what was actually destroying the lands.

New Burning of Xinye wording
Choose four lands you control and destroy those lands. Then target opponent chooses four lands he or she controls. Destroy those lands. Then Burning of Xinye deals 4 damage to each creature.

Lim-Dûl's Vault
We've been adding a helpful "in any order" when instructing a player to put multiple cards on the bottom of his or her library, so we should do so here.

New Lim-Dûl's Vault wording
Look at the top five cards of your library. As many times as you choose, you may pay 1 life, put those cards on the bottom of your library in any order, then look at the top five cards of your library. Then shuffle your library and put the last cards you looked at this way on top of it in any order.

Rite of Replication
This card had a nonstandard way of putting a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of another creature.

New Rite of Replication wording
Kicker {o5} (You may pay an additional {o5} as you cast this spell.)
Put a token that's a copy of target creature onto the battlefield. If Rite of Replication was kicked, put five of those tokens onto the battlefield instead.

Gathan Raiders
Durations like the one found on Gathan Raiders typically say "as long as" the stated condition is true. This one differed and said "if," so we're bringing it in line.

New Gathan Raiders wording
Hellbent — Gathan Raiders gets +2/+2 as long as you have no cards in hand.
Morph—Discard a card. (You may cast this face down as a 2/2 creature for {o3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

Many of the examples used throughout the document were updated. In some cases, a card had received an updated wording, but that wording never found its way into the rulebook. In other cases, I just changed the text to use more recent cards.

I wanted a rule that gave some direction as to when you set aside double-faced cards that are represented by checklist cards in your deck, also subtly reminding players that such double-faced cards should not be included in your deck. As sideboards operate under much the same principle, they got included in the rule as well.

This rule was updated to say an object's colors can also be defined by a color indicator.

107.13 & 107.14
The sun and the moon symbols are defined. They have no game function other than identifying which is the front face and which is the back face of a double-faced card.

The symbol that represents color indicator is introduced here, although the color indicator rules are later in the document.

Double-faced cards necessitated some reworking of what a legal Magic card is. The previous definition of traditional cards included the Magic card back. The new definition expands this a bit.

Color indicator joins the roster of characteristics.

This rule stated that a token couldn't return to the battlefield after leaving it. It's being expanded to include any zone change for a token that has left the battlefield. This shuts off some shenanigans, probably involving token copies of Panglacial Wurm.

The rule now includes information about naming a double-faced card: you can name either face, but not both.

The name of a card can show up in rules text in one of two contexts: it's referring to the object itself or it's preceded by "card named," meaning it's probably referring to another card. This rule explains that if an ability that includes a card name is gained by another object, you replace all instances of the name of the object that had the ability with the name of the object that gained the ability. But really, this rule wanted to only apply to card names used in the first context, so now it does. If an ability says "card named [something]," it means a card named [something], not a card named whatever this card's name is.

This rule, in the Mana Cost and Color section, also addresses color indicators.

This is the new Color Indicator section. Subsequent sections were renumbered.

This new rule states that an object can only gain a subtype if it is the appropriate card type. For example, if Phantasmal Image copies an animated land, the copy effect will fail to make it an Illusion because it's not a creature.

Curses! Added to the list of enchantment types. Seriously.

Werewolf is added to the list of creature types.

Morbid is added to the list of ability words.

A new exception is added to the rule that says objects have no memory of their previous existence after changing zones. The exception is that if an object is moved to a public zone during the casting of a spell or activation of an ability, that spell or ability can perform actions on that object. The only card I found that this applies to is Jhoira of the Ghitu, but her ability wasn't covered by the existing exceptions.

Color indicator was added to the list of things copied in the Volrath's Shapeshifter rule.

This is a new rule that includes a change to the way multiple replacement effects are applied to an object entering the battlefield. Under the new rule, effects that replace how an object enters the battlefield are applied in the following order: effects that would affect under whose control an object enters the battlefield, effects that would cause an object to become a copy of another object, then all other applicable replacement effects.

This new rule explains exchanging two numerical values that aren't both life totals. (It also doesn't apply to switching a creature's power and toughness.) Like all exchanges, the entire exchange must be made or none of the exchange is made.

These are the new rules of fight. The first rule of the rules of fight is you don't talk about the rules of fight. Other rules include the fight involving exactly two creatures and the damage being simultaneous noncombat damage. Also, if one creature doesn't show up for the fight (isn't on the battlefield) or has gone into hiding (not a creature), there is no fight and no damage is dealt. Subsequent rules were renumbered.

Another new keyword action: transform. These rules explain that only double-faced cards can transform, how to transform a double-faced permanent, and that transforming a permanent and turning it face down are not the same thing.

706.2, 706.2a
Color indicator is added to the list of things copied when copying an object.

This new rule explains how to copy a double-faced permanent. You only get the characteristics of the visible face. Or, as we put it in development, "the Clone sees what the Clone sees." (I know, the Clone sometimes sees things it doesn't see.)

This rule explained that characteristic-defining abilities that define a characteristic that's specifically exempted from the copying process are not copied. This is now also applicable to color indicators as well. For example, a Vesuvan Doppelganger copying a Crimson Kobolds will not have a red color indicator and will be blue.

Oddly, the rules describing casting a face-down spell never specified that the resulting permanent will be face down. There was, however, a rule that specified that it was face up by default, so this felt like an important thing to mention.

This is the new section on double-faced cards. See the double-faced card rules page for most of the information contained within.

This rule, defining color identity in Commander games, was reworked a bit to clarify that every card has a color identity, not just the commander.

This new rule states that the back face of a double-faced card is considered when determining a card's color identity.

This rule was rewritten to make the color identity limitations of a Commander deck clearer, especially given the rewording of 903.4.

New entries: color indicator, double-faced cards, fight, moon symbol, sun symbol, transform

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