Shadows over Innistrad Update Bulletin—Oracle Text

Posted in Feature on April 7, 2016

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.

Oracle Changes

What is Oracle?

Magic is a game made up of more than 14,000 interchangeable pieces—the cards. Over the years, we've felt the need to update the wordings of older cards, whether because we've introduced a new keyword, or a card was printed with a mistake, or we have a clearer wording for what a card does, etc. Rather than sneak into your room at night and change your cards with a magic marker, we keep a database of the "modern wordings" (what the cards would say if we printed them today) of every tournament-legal card ever printed. These wordings are considered the official wordings of the cards, and accurately reflect their functions.

You can access a card's Oracle wording by looking it up in Gatherer.


Mondronen Shaman (nonfunctional)

Dark Ascension's Mondronen Shaman didn't follow the precedent set by Ulvenwald Mystics and swapped the order of its creature types. While working on creature types for Shadows over Innistrad, we decided to line them up.

Old type line

Creature—Human Werewolf Shaman

New type line

Creature—Human Shaman Werewolf


Vanishing reminder text (nonfunctional)

Part of an ongoing project is to clean up the reminder text for older keyword abilities. The vanishing reminder text got the once-over this time around, replacing "permanent" with the more appropriate "creature" (or in one case, "Aura").

New reminder text

This creature enters the battlefield with four time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter from it. When the last is removed, sacrifice it.

Cards affected: Aven Riftwatcher, Calciderm, Chronozoa, Deadly Grub, Deadwood Treefolk, Keldon Marauders, Lavacore Elemental, Lost Auramancers, Ravaging Riftwurm, Reality Acid (the Aura), Soultether Golem, and Waning Wurm


Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind (nonfunctional)

The last ability referred to casting a card if it's an "instant or sorcery." It's correct to refer to the object as an "instant or sorcery card" at that time, as it's still exiled at that point.

Old rules text

T: Add C to your mana pool.

2UR, T: Exile the top card of your library. Until your next turn, you may cast that card if it's an instant or sorcery.

New rules text

T: Add C to your mana pool.

2UR, T: Exile the top card of your library. Until your next turn, you may cast that card if it's an instant or sorcery card.


Cocoon (nonfunctional)

The standard is to have enters-the-battlefield abilities appear before other static abilities, so the order of the middle two abilities was changed. Also, we retired the "indefinitely" reminder text, as it proved more confusing than helpful.

Old rules text

Enchant creature you control

Enchanted creature doesn't untap during your untap step if Cocoon has a pupa counter on it.

When Cocoon enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature and put three pupa counters on Cocoon.

At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a pupa counter from Cocoon. If you can't, sacrifice it, put a +1/+1 counter on enchanted creature, and that creature gains flying. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)

New rules text

Enchant creature you control

When Cocoon enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature and put three pupa counters on Cocoon.

Enchanted creature doesn't untap during your untap step if Cocoon has a pupa counter on it.

At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a pupa counter from Cocoon. If you can't, sacrifice it, put a +1/+1 counter on enchanted creature, and that creature gains flying.


Anafenza, the Foremost (nonfunctional)

It's easy to get sucked in by attractive-sounding cards. Take Anafenza. Simple-sounding ability, but there's a lot of complexity buried within its words. Let's take a look.

Part of this card's charm is that it's supposed to shut down "dies" triggered abilities. But we forgot about tokens, so those still die. Oops. (Compare to Rest in Peace.) Additionally, there's also confusion over what exactly qualifies as a "creature card" for the last ability. If it were a trigger, we'd be concerned with the card in the graveyard. But it's not a triggered ability; it's a replacement. So we have to look at the permanent as it last existed on the battlefield. But "creature card" doesn't mean look at the printed card. Save for a few weird cases involving double-faced cards, things generally don't ignore continuous effects affecting a permanent. So Anafenza's ability wants to apply to anything that's both a creature and a card. That is, not a token. So animated land cards get exiled. Cards with bestow that are Auras at the time they would go to the graveyard aren't exiled, and actually go to the graveyard. It's all very strange.

Ultimately, we decided the best thing to do is expand the wording of the last ability to say exactly what it does. And cards like this will get a little more scrutiny in the future.

Old rules text

Whenever Anafenza, the Foremost attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on another target tapped creature you control.

If a creature card would be put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead.

New rules text

Whenever Anafenza, the Foremost attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on another target tapped creature you control.

If a nontoken creature an opponent owns would die or a creature card not on the battlefield would be put into an opponent's graveyard, exile that card instead.


Introduction

Oracle Changes

Comprehensive Rules

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