January 2009 Update Bulletin

Posted in Feature on January 29, 2009

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Conflux previews are in full swing, and the Prerelease is just days away, which means it's time for me to pop my head in and tell you all about the minor wording updates happening to Arabian Nights cards. I always said that my greatest strength was my ... um ... y'know ... timing. This article will detail all the changes that are being implemented in the Oracle card database and the Comprehensive Rules.

These updates happen only when a new set is released, so corrections or improvements that have come to our attention over the past few months are being implemented now. In addition, some rules changes are necessary to make the new cards work.

Changes to the Oracle card database will go into effect on Friday, January 30.

What is Oracle?

Magic is a game made up of over 10,000 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.

Changes to the Comprehensive Rules will take effect shortly thereafter, though any changes that are necessary for Conflux cards to work will be in effect during the Prerelease. Bear in mind, however, that the new version of the Comp. Rules has not yet been finalized, so the listed amendments are subject to change.

There's nothing particularly earth-shattering happening this time, unless you're a big, big fan of Eye for an Eye or Sorrow's Path. Problem children like Gilded Drake and Unstable Shapeshifter are getting tweaks, but this is mostly standard maintenance stuff.

What are the Comprehensive Rules?

Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have over 10,000 interchangeable game pieces, you get some freaky interactions. The Comprehensive Rules cover everything the game has ever come up with, from basic game play structure, to every keyword ever, to entire pages dedicated to single bizarre cards (hello, Mindslaver!) The Comprehensive Rules are, well, comprehensive ... but they're also obtuse, unfriendly, and looooong. They're not intended to be a player resource—they're a judge resource, a rules guru resource, and a place to store definitive answers. In fact, I honestly recommend never reading them. For a much friendlier rulebook that is intended to be a player resource, check out the Rules Page and download the Basic Rulebook (2MB PDF), now with an appendix on planeswalker rules. It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames ... but you'll never miss them.

A good portion of this update is spent handling "übertemplating" issues. When we decide what wording a particular card should have for its specific ability, that's templating. When we decide on a standard wording for a class of abilities that appear across a broad swath of cards, that's übertemplating. It promotes consistency, eliminates ambiguity, and (by standardizing Oracle) helps our efforts to template new cards. All of these changes are nonfunctional; because there are a number of them, they're called out in their own link below.

Many suggestions for changes to Oracle or the Comp Rules came from me, Magic Editor Del Laugel, and the members of the Rules Guru mailing list. But, as always, a lot of them came from ... you. As always, there were a number of useful notes from Alexander Deyke, and plenty of suggestions were mined from posts made on the last update's message boards and the Rules Issues forums. We monitor those forums, so feel free to post any suggestions or comments there.

Functional Oracle Changes

Balance's current Oracle wording seems to have you sacrifice lands in stages, one after the other, until you reach the required number. But the printed card doesn't imply that. When Restore Balance was printed in Time Spiral, it used a more succinct, more accurate template for this ability that clearly has all land sacrifices happen simultaneously. (And creature sacrifices, and discards.) Balance is being changed to use that template too.

New Oracle text:
Each player chooses a number of lands he or she controls equal to the number of lands controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Players discard cards and sacrifice creatures the same way.

Eye for an Eye
This card's timing has always been kind of fuzzy. Did you have to wait until you've been dealt damage to play it? The Arabian Nights, Revised, and Fourth Edition printings say yes ... but they also say that you ignore damage prevention effects that have affected the original damage. That implies a weird little time bubble. The Fifth Edition wording is even stranger, as it allows you to play Eye for an Eye only when you've been assigned damage. The current Oracle wording only adds to the strangeness. It's clearly useful only after damage has been dealt, but it counts the sum total of damage dealt to you by a single source over the course of the turn—even if it was dealt in multiple instances—which isn't how any of the printed wordings worked.

And then there's the flavor. The card is designed to exact revenge for damage dealt to you, but if that damage is enough to cause you to lose the game, you won't be able to play Eye for an Eye. And isn't that the most important time to play it? The Fifth Edition wording of the card promotes the concept of simultaneous damage, before the Oracle wording veers away. Can we achieve that? This is a bit of an experiment, but I'm willing to give it a shot ....

New Oracle text:
The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to you this turn, instead that source deals that much damage to you and Eye for an Eye deals that much damage to that source's controller.

Freyalise's Winds
In the last Oracle update, I changed this card from a bad Oracle wording that spliced multiple abilities onto permanents into a card that matches Temporal Distortion. It was pointed out that it shouldn't really match Temporal Distortion. A replacement effect would be truer to the printed card than Temporal Distortion's static ability and triggered ability.

New Oracle text:
Whenever a permanent becomes tapped, put a wind counter on it.
If a permanent with a wind counter on it would untap during its controller's untap step, remove all wind counters from it instead.

Gilded Drake
Here's what's going on with this crazy card:

1) When Gilded Drake comes into play, its ability triggers. You must target a creature an opponent controls. If you can't choose a legal target, any other ability simply wouldn't go on the stack. In this case, however, you must sacrifice Gilded Drake.
2) As the triggered ability resolves, the game checks to see if its target is still legal. If it isn't, any other ability would be countered and nothing would happen. In this case, however, you must sacrifice Gilded Drake.
3) If the target is still legal, you exchange control of that creature and Gilded Drake. Or you can choose to sacrifice Gilded Drake.

Part 1 (and the latter half of part 3) are currently being achieved by a modal wording. If there are no legal targets, you can't choose the mode with a target in it, so you have to choose to sacrifice Gilded Drake. I think the same thing can be more simply achieved by a "choose up to one" targeting restriction. Right now, Gilded Drake says to sacrifice it in two different ways; with the new wording, it just says it once.

Part 2 is currently being achieved with the bizarre and unprecedented line "This ability can't be countered." The intent of this line is that the ability can't be countered by the game rules for having no legal targets. Unfortunately, it's also covering effects of spells and abilities like Stifle. Stifle should be able to counter Gilded Drake's ability.

New Oracle text:
When Gilded Drake comes into play, exchange control of Gilded Drake and up to one target creature an opponent controls. If you don't make an exchange, sacrifice Gilded Drake. This ability can't be countered except by spells and abilities. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Guardian Beast
As printed, Guardian Beast could prevent your noncreature artifacts from being further enchanted, but it wouldn't affect Auras already on those artifacts. Its current Oracle wording says that noncreature artifacts you control can't be enchanted, which means Auras on those artifacts would fall off. I'm adding a line to the template that's borrowed (and modified) from cards like White Ward.

New Oracle text:
As long as Guardian Beast is untapped, noncreature artifacts you control can't be enchanted, they're indestructible, and other players can't gain control of them. This effect doesn't remove Auras already attached to those artifacts.

As printed, Pyramids prevented a land from being destroyed. It currently regenerates that land, but it shouldn't, because the printed wording wouldn't cause that land to become tapped. There was a proposal on one of the boards for "The next time target land would be destroyed this turn, instead it isn't." That doesn't work because if that land is also a creature, and the reason it would be destroyed is because it's been dealt lethal damage, "instead it isn't" doesn't clear the damage off the land and it'll immediately be destroyed again as a state-based effect. But the following should work.

Also, as printed, Pyramids had a single ability. It was broken up in Oracle to two separate abilities just for ease of use. You choose which ability you're using at the time you play one of them. If it were modal, you'd choose which mode you're using at the time you play the ability. The difference is negligible. But modal activated abilities do exist, so we might as well stay as true to the printed card as possible.

New Oracle text:
{2}: Choose one — Destroy target Aura attached to a land; or the next time target land would be destroyed this turn, remove all damage from it instead.

Rebound & Silver Wyvern
The printed wordings of these cards' abilities lets them affect spells like Seeds of Strength, which have multiple targets that all target the same thing. The Oracle wording (which predates Seeds of Strength) does not. The target-changing ability seen on Torchling (which can affect Seeds of Strength) is actually quite similar to the printed wordings of these cards, so it's being implemented here.

New Silver Wyvern Oracle text:
{U}: Change the target of target spell or ability that targets only Silver Wyvern. The new target must be a creature.

New Rebound Oracle text:
Change the target of target spell that targets only a player. The new target must be a player.

Shaman en-Kor
A damage prevention or redirection effect usually says "source of your choice" when the source of the applicable damage is locked in at the time the effect is created, and just "source" if it determines the source when applicable damage is dealt. This is a case of the former, but the Oracle text doesn't say "of your choice." It's being brought in line with the standard modern-day template for its printed wording.

New Oracle text:
{0}: The next 1 damage that would be dealt to Shaman en-Kor this turn is dealt to target creature you control instead.
{1W}: The next time a source of your choice would deal damage to target creature this turn, that damage is dealt to Shaman en-Kor instead.

Sorrow's Path
As printed, Sorrow's Path had a fascinating line break. It looked like this:

{T}: Exchange two of opponent's
blocking creatures. This exchange
may not cause an illegal block.
Sorrow's Path does 2 damage to
you and 2 damage to each creature
you control whenever it is tapped.

Was that one ability or two? Sorrow's Path predated half-line spaces between abilities, so when looking at the actual card, there was no way to tell whether this was all a single activated ability or the first three lines were an activated ability and the last three lines were a separate triggered ability. Players at the time commonly interpreted the card as having two abilities, both because the second ability parsed better that way, and because that interpretation made the card not completely useless. (Mark Rosewater, for one, liked to give it to his opponent somehow and then force it to become tapped.)

In Oracle, however, it's all one ability. This is supported by the original typesetting file for the card ... but that doesn't necessarily signify that it was two abilities. City of Brass's two abilities were fused into a single paragraph in its Arabian Nights printing, but they were interpreted as two separate abilities, and the card was reprinted with correct line breaks in Chronicles.

There's no smoking gun here, but this is a case where the Oracle wording should reflect the reality of how players actually played the card, especially when their interpretation is entirely justified by the printed wording.

New Oracle text:
{T}: Choose two target blocking creatures an opponent controls. If each of those creatures could block all creatures that the other is blocking, remove both of them from combat. Each one then blocks all creatures the other was blocking.
Whenever Sorrow's Path becomes tapped, it deals 2 damage to you and each creature you control.

Tainted Specter
Tainted Specter's Oracle wording currently has a player put a card from her or her hand into the graveyard without using the word "discard." It shouldn't.

New Oracle text:
{1BB}, {T}: Target player discards a card unless he or she puts a card from his or her hand on top of his or her library. If that player discards a card this way, Tainted Specter deals 1 damage to each creature and each player. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

Temporal Aperture
When its ability resolved, it momentarily revealed the top card of your library. It then immediately stopped revealing it, but required you to keep track of it while it's face down on top of your library, and even to play it while it was face down. This was weird, but didn't bother anyone. However, there's a rules tweak in this update regarding keeping track of cards in your library that makes that functionality untenable. Temporal Aperture will now specify that the card it reveals stays revealed.

New Oracle text:
{5}, {T}: Shuffle your library and reveal the top card. Until end of turn, as long as that card remains on top of your library, play with the top card of your library revealed and you may play that card without paying its mana cost. (If it has X in its mana cost, X is 0.)

Unstable Shapeshifter
Unstable Shapeshifter's ability will trigger when Unstable Shapeshifter itself comes into play. It will become a copy of itself and keep its ability, meaning it will have two versions of that ability. The next time a creature comes into play, both versions of this ability will trigger. First one will resolve, causing it to become a copy of the new creature and retain its ability, then the other will resolve, causing the exact same thing to happen. It'll then be down to one copy of its ability, and will work as you'd expect. Having it trigger on itself is unnecessary, confusing, and really just seems to be an oversight. It certainly doesn't serve any greater purpose, so this card is getting errata to not do that.

New Oracle text:
Whenever another creature comes into play, Unstable Shapeshifter becomes a copy of that creature and gains this ability.

Oracle Übertemplating Changes

Over the past couple of years, we've been using "ability words" on cards to indicate set-specific mechanics that aren't actually keywords. These words have no rules meaning; they're basically reminder text (which explains why they're in italics) that links together similar abilities for ease of understanding and categorization. Examples include kinship and hellbent.

Since ability words are just tags that link together cards in a single set or block, we haven't scoured Oracle and put them everywhere else they'd fit. For example, Brink of Madness predates hellbent, and its Oracle record hasn't been modified to include the "hellbent" tag even though it could. Similarly, Hollowborn Barghest and Idle Thoughts postdate hellbent, and each was printed without that ability word.

This brings us to domain. Introduced in Invasion block, domain is a perfect example of the type of ability that we'd tag with an ability word. Each domain ability is different (meaning we can't use a keyword), but a significant part of each ability is the same (meaning they're all connected). Invasion block came a number of years before we started using ability words, so the cards never had a chance to be printed that way.

The Conflux set, on the other hand, is more than happy to use the ability word "domain" on its domain cards. This includes Worldly Counsel, an Invasion reprint. Since Worldly Counsel will now have "domain" in its Oracle record, and domain was clearly a block mechanic when it was first introduced, we decided to add "domain" to all the relevant Oracle records. This includes the Time Spiral card Tromp the Domains, since Time Spiral (as an exception to the norm) would have used the ability word had it been available at the time, just as Future Sight did with Keldon Megaliths.

Cards getting the ability word: Allied Strategies, Collapsing Borders, Collective Restraint, Draco, Evasive Action, Exotic Curse, Exotic Disease, Gaea's Might, Kavu Scout, Magnigoth Treefolk, Ordered Migration, Planar Despair, Power Armor, Samite Pilgrim, Stratadon, Strength of Unity, Tribal Flames, Tromp the Domains, Wandering Stream, Wayfaring Giant

Fertile Ground et al
Fertile Ground's current wording is "Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, its controller adds one mana of any color to his or her mana pool." While technically correct, this wording has confused players for years, since it's unclear whether this mana is in addition to, or instead of, the mana the land normally produces. (It's in addition to that mana—Fertile Ground doesn't affect the land it's enchanting at all, so that land does whatever it normally does. Then Fertile Ground itself, not that land, produces the extra mana.) For this reason, we're adding reminder text to these kinds of cards from this point forward.

New Fertile Ground Oracle text:
Enchant land
Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, its controller adds one mana of any color to his or her mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces).

Other cards getting this reminder text: Bubbling Muck, Chaos Moon, Dawn's Reflection, Elvish Guidance, Gauntlet of Might, Gauntlet of Power, High Tide, Overgrowth, Snowfall, Utopia Sprawl, Vernal Bloom, Wild Growth

Coercion et al
We're correcting a minor wording discrepancy evident in some spells and abilities that cause a player to discard (or otherwise get rid of) a card in his or her hand that you choose. Distress says "Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card." Coercion says "Target opponent reveals his or her hand. Choose a card from it. That player discards that card." Distress's second sentence explicitly starts with "you," while the "you" is implied in Coercion's second sentence. It makes no difference to how the cards work, but we're standardizing the wording going forward, with Distress's wording as the default.

New Coercion Oracle text:
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card.

Other cards affected by this change: Castigate, Duress, Encroach, Ghastlord of Fugue, He Who Hungers, Lost Hours, Mind Slash, Nightmare Void, Ostracize, Psychic Spear, Psychic Theft, Shattered Dreams, Shimian Specter, Talara's Bane, Unmask, Venarian Glimmer

Tormod's Crypt et al
Another wording discrepancy that we're standardizing regards removing all cards in a certain zone from the game. Morningtide says "Remove all cards in all graveyards from the game." Tormod's Crypt says "{T}, Sacrifice Tormod's Crypt: Remove target player's graveyard from the game." But Tormod's Crypt doesn't really mean that—like Morningtide, it's just removing cards. Although the Tormod's Crypt wording is more dramatic, it's also more confusing, especially to newer players who (quite reasonably) think that it means what it says and that player has no graveyard for the rest of the game. These wordings are changing to match Morningtide.

New Tormod's Crypt Oracle text:
{T}, Sacrifice Tormod's Crypt: Remove all cards in target player's graveyard from the game.

Other cards affected by this change: Bottled Cloister, Duplicity, Grip of Amnesia, Jund Charm, Leveler, Magus of the Jar, Memory Jar, Moonring Mirror, Relic of Progenitus, Thought Lash

Sabertooth Nishoba et al
Some cards have (or grant) protection from two things. In most cases, we use a double protection ability. For example, Stillmoon Cavalier has protection from white and from black. But sometimes we've used two different protection abilities. For example, Sabertooth Nishoba has protection from blue and protection from red. We're eliminating the discrepancy by opting for the more popular style.

New Sabertooth Nishoba Oracle text:
Trample, protection from blue and from red

Other cards affected by this change: Akroma, Angel of Fury; Akroma, Angel of Wrath; Akroma's Memorial; Mask of Law and Grace; Paladin en-Vec

Banding & flying
Six cards have (or can have) both banding and flying. In four of them, banding precedes flying. The other two (Mesa Pegasus and Nalathni Dragon) are being changed to match.

Defender & flying
Twenty-one cards have (or can have, or can grant) both defender and flying. In nineteen of them, defender precedes flying. The other two (Oona's Gatewarden and Plumeveil) are being changed to match.

Lists of Keywords with Partial Reminder Text
Some cards have multiple keywords listed on the same line, but reminder text for just the last one. In those cases, the keywords are typically separated by semicolons, not commas. When some recent keywords were instituted in Oracle, cards were changed so that full abilities became keywords plus reminder text. A few of those should have had their keywords separated by semicolons, but commas were used instead. That's being corrected.

You could argue that the reminder text isn't necessary in Oracle. Not all new cards with shroud have reminder text, so why go out of our way to put that reminder text on old cards that weren't printed with shroud in the first place? I prefer to keep the reminder text on these cards because it brings the Oracle wording closer to the printed wording. Take Humble Budoka, as the simplest possible example. If you're actually holding one, it says "Humble Budoka can't be the target of spells or abilities." If you look it up in Gatherer and find that its Oracle wording is "Shroud," that may not be very helpful. But if you find that its Oracle wording is "Shroud (This permanent can't be the target of spells or abilities.)" then you know both what Humble Budoka does and what "shroud" means.

Cards affected by this change: Æther Membrane, Ancient Spider, Exalted Angel, Giant Solifuge, Hawkeater Moth, Kjeldoran Gargoyle, Kodama of the North Tree, Longbow Archer, Mourning Thrull, Phantom Nishoba, Simic Sky Swallower, Tel-Jilad Archers, Traproot Kami, Warrior Angel, Whip Vine, Zephid

Other Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

Abeyance & Hand to Hand
These cards refer to playing instants and/or sorceries, but they should refer to playing instant spells and/or sorcery spells.

New Abeyance Oracle text:
Until end of turn, target player can't play instant spells, sorcery spells, or activated abilities that aren't mana abilities.
Draw a card.

New Hand to Hand Oracle text:
Instant spells and activated abilities that aren't mana abilities can't be played during the combat phase.

Adarkar Unicorn & Snowfall
These cards were printed with the same mana restriction, but their wordings are now different in Oracle for no good reason. Neither of them match the optimal wording.

New Adarkar Unicorn Oracle text:
{T}: Add either {U} or {1U} to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to pay cumulative upkeep costs.

New Snowfall Oracle text:
Cumulative upkeep {U} (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.)
Whenever an Island is tapped for mana, its controller may add {U} to his or her mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces). If that Island is snow, its controller may add {UU} to his or her mana pool instead. Spend this mana only to pay cumulative upkeep costs.

Apocalypse Chime
An errant colon is being changed to a comma.

New Oracle text:
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Apocalypse Chime: Destroy all nontoken permanents from the Homelands expansion. They can't be regenerated.

As printed, the controller of the triggered ability was the one that the card instructed to untap all creatures and lands. Somewhere along the way, this changed so that the card instructs each player to untap his or her own stuff. There's no particular reason for that, so it's being changed back.

New Oracle text:
At the beginning of each upkeep, untap all creatures and lands.

This was missing a comma.

New Oracle text:
Until end of turn, any time you could play a mana ability, you may pay 1 life. If you do, add {1} to your mana pool.

This was missing the word "of."

New Oracle text:
Enchant creature
Whenever enchanted creature deals damage to a creature, gain control of that creature as long as Charisma remains in play.

Dreams of the Dead
The last sentence is currently "If the creature would leave play, remove it from the game instead." The strange thing about this ability is that if the creature would leave play because it's being removed from the game, it winds up being removed from the game—this ability doesn't do anything in that case. Or, more accurately, it replaces an event with an identical event. To avoid this needless and bizarre case, the flashback and unearth rules both end with "remove it from the game instead of putting it anywhere else." So this will too.

New Oracle text:
{1U}: Return target white or black creature card from your graveyard to play. That creature gains "Cumulative upkeep {2}." If the creature would leave play, remove it from the game instead of putting it anywhere else.

Dystopia, Putrefaction, Reign of Terror, Snow Hound
When two color words are listed in a card's text, their relative order is the same as the order we use for those mana symbols in a mana cost. We don't rigidly go white-blue-black-red-green. Rather, we check the shortest distance between those two colors on the color wheel, as seen on the back of every card. That means green is often the trickiest, since it comes last in standard WUBRG order, but comes first when listed with just white or just blue.

New Dystopia Oracle text:
Cumulative upkeep—Pay 1 life. (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.)
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices a green or white permanent.

New Putrefaction Oracle text:
Whenever a player plays a green or white spell, that player discards a card.

New Reign of Terror Oracle text:
Destroy all green creatures or all white creatures. They can't be regenerated. You lose 2 life for each creature put into a graveyard this way.

New Snow Hound Oracle text:
{1}, {T}: Return Snow Hound and target green or blue creature you control to their owner's hand.

Essence Sliver
There was a typo in its reminder text; "gain" is becoming "gains."

New Oracle text:
All Slivers have lifelink. (Whenever a Sliver deals damage, its controller gains that much life.)

Hanna's Custody
The proper wording for this ability starts with "all."

New Oracle text:
All artifacts have shroud. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities.)

The wording is getting a bit streamlined.

New Oracle text:
Activated abilities of creatures cost {1} less to play. This effect can’t reduce the amount of mana an ability costs to play to less than 1 mana.

Hull Breach
The "Choose one or both" modal wording introduced on Branching Bolt is being put into use here, since that's now the standard template for this kind of ability.

New Oracle text:
Choose one or both — Destroy target artifact; or destroy target enchantment.

Invasion Plans
Master Warcraft provides a good precedent regarding the best wording for the second ability.

New Oracle text:
All creatures block each turn if able.
The attacking player chooses how each creature blocks each turn.

Lost Order of Jarkeld
This card has you choose an opponent as it comes into play, then it refers to that opponent later. But after the choice has been made, it doesn't actually matter if the chosen player is an opponent of Lost Order of Jarkeld's controller. If the chosen player takes control of Lost Order of Jarkeld, for example, the creature's ability will still refer to that player—and still work—even though the player obviously isn't his or her own opponent. For that reason, the second ability is changing so that it refers to the "chosen player," which is much clearer. Jihad and Call to Arms got the same fix recently, but this card was overlooked.

New Oracle text:
As Lost Order of Jarkeld comes into play, choose an opponent.
Lost Order of Jarkeld's power and toughness are each equal to 1 plus the number of creatures the chosen player controls.

Magnetic Web
This card shouldn't have "this turn" in its first ability.

New Oracle text:
If a creature with a magnet counter on it attacks, all creatures with magnet counters on them attack if able.
Whenever a creature with a magnet counter on it attacks, all creatures with magnet counters on them block that creature this turn if able.
{1}, {T}: Put a magnet counter on target creature.

Pallid Mycoderm
This card's last ability is a little ambiguous, so it's being changed to a wording similar to the one used on Lovisa Coldeyes.

New Oracle text:
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 into play.
Sacrifice a Saproling: Fungus and/or Saproling creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

Pillar of the Paruns
This was the first card that added a single mana to your mana pool with a restriction on what that mana could be spent on. Since then, Primal Beyond and a new card in Conflux have established the standard wording for that restriction: It's phrased in the plural even though there's only one mana. This synchs it up with other such restrictions, and it makes more sense if Mana Reflection is in play.

New Oracle text:
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to play multicolored spells.

Promise of Bunrei
If a card has a triggered ability that will typically trigger only once, it starts with "When," not "Whenever." Although Promise of Bunrei's ability certainly could trigger more than once (if multiple creatures you control are put into the graveyard simultaneously, or if a creature you control is put into the graveyard while the trigger is already on the stack), the fact that you must sacrifice Promise of Bunrei when the ability resolves really puts it into the "When" camp.

New Oracle text:
When a creature you control is put into a graveyard from play, sacrifice Promise of Bunrei. If you do, put four 1/1 colorless Spirit creature tokens into play.

Seize the Soul
This is getting a comma between "nonwhite" and "nonblack," the way Terror has a comma between "nonartifact" and "nonblack."

New Oracle text:
Destroy target nonwhite, nonblack creature. Put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying into play.
When the creature Seize the Soul haunts is put into a graveyard, destroy target nonwhite nonblack creature. Put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying into play.

Thalakos Deceiver
Unlike Promise of Bunrei, this ability could easily trigger multiple times, since you may choose not to sacrifice Thalakos Deceiver when it resolves. For that reason, it should start with "Whenever," not with "When."

New Oracle text:
Shadow (This creature can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Whenever Thalakos Deceiver attacks and isn't blocked, you may sacrifice it. If you do, gain control of target creature. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Volrath's Laboratory
It's getting an additional "a" in its first ability, and the placement of "this turn" is moving in its second ability.

New Oracle text:
As Volrath's Laboratory comes into play, choose a color and a creature type.
{5}, {T}: Put a 2/2 creature token of the chosen color and type into play.

Volrath's Shapeshifter
Oh, Volrath's Shapeshifter. Sometimes when the rules are systemically changed for the betterment of the game as a whole, and for most cards in general, one or two cards get thrown under the bus. That's what happened to Volrath's Shapeshifter. When the continuous effect layer system was implemented, different kinds of continuous effects were broken out so they'd apply in a set sequence. It was determined that copy effects would apply before control-change effects because all existing cards—except one—would work that way. (Switching those layers to save Volrath's Shapeshifter is not an option; if we did, Copy Enchantment copying Confiscate, or Clone copying Sower of Temptation, to name a couple of more modern examples, would cease to work as you'd expect.)

The reason Volrath's Shapeshifter breaks under the layer system is that it cares about the top card of its controller's graveyard—so its copy effect is dependent on who controls it. Say Player A controls Volrath's Shapeshifter, then Player B Confiscates it. Volrath's Shapeshifter will continue to look at Player A's graveyard. That's because Volrath's Shapeshifter knows who its original controller was, and its copy effect is applied before Confiscate's control-change effect is applied to swing it over to Player B.

To handle this, Volrath's Shapeshifter's effect was changed from a copy effect to a text-changing effect (which happens after control-change effects). Most text-changing effects change a single word of text, like Mind Bend does. Volrath's Shapeshifter changes all its text, and expands the definition of "text" to include color and mana cost, among other things. It's ugly, but it does the trick.

I'd love to tell you that I have an elegant fix for this card, and that's why it's on the list. Nope. I'm deleting some unnecessary text from the card, putting in a comma, and fixing the italicization of its reminder text. (The unnecessary text is that Volrath's Shapeshifter's ability says that it works "as long as Volrath's Shapeshifter is in play," but that goes without saying, so this is just redundant.)

New Oracle text:
As long as the top card of your graveyard is a creature card, Volrath's Shapeshifter has the full text of that card and has the text "{2}: Discard a card." (Volrath's Shapeshifter has that card's name, mana cost, color, types, abilities, power, and toughness.)
{2}: Discard a card.

Yawgmoth's Agenda
Its first ability has a more modern standard template, as seen on Colfenor's Plans and (in a modified form) on Rule of Law.

New Oracle text:
You can't play more than one spell each turn.
You may play cards in your graveyard.
If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.

Comprehensive Rules Changes

One of the things this rule says is that lands with basic land types have intrinsic mana abilities. (Mountains have "{T}: Add {R} to your mana pool" even though they don't say so.) The rule was slightly reworded to make it clear that it applies to lands that aren't in play as well. (Skill Sharer and Dryad Arbor can now do a happy dance.)

This rule describes step-by-step the process of an object changing zones. Sometimes the object that's changing zones has an ability on it that modifies that event (like Darksteel Colossus does), so in certain cases (like Darksteel Colossus being put into the graveyard from the library) it's necessary for the object's owner to look at it before the zone change actually happens. The rule is being modified accordingly.

217.2e & 217.2f
These rules are being swapped, so the new 217.2f can be close to the new and related 217.2g.

This new rule will state that if a player is playing with the top card of his or her library revealed, and that card stops being revealed for any length of time before being revealed again, it's treated as a new object. "Any length of time" includes instances as short as shuffling your library (during which time no card is revealed) or rearranging the top few cards of your library (ditto).

This is a new rule. It's being created to handle the relative order of objects that are put on the stack at the same time. Radiate, for example, can create multiple copies of a spell, all of which appear on the stack at the same time. Obviously they're ordered the way their controller wants, but no rule actually stated that.

Each of these rules is being renumbered, shifting down a letter to 217.6d-f, respectively.

This rule covers creatures and planeswalkers being removed from combat, but it was ambiguous in corner cases (particularly when dealing with permanents that are both creatures and planeswalkers). It's being rewritten for clarity.

This rule states that if a creature is assigned combat damage, then leaves combat, that damage will still be dealt to it. No such provision was made for planeswalkers; that's being corrected.

Rule 402.8 covers all the different kinds of abilities that work somewhere other than in play or on the stack. Rule 402.8i is being created to cover abilities that modify the rules of deck construction, specifically Relentless Rats. It's a strange one, because deck construction rules aren't covered by the Comprehensive Rules at all (they're in the DCI floor rules), but the Comp Rules do have to state that the ability works.

This rule is being created to provide more information about abilities with play restrictions (like Rootwalla's ability) when they're acquired by other permanents (like Skill Borrower).

This rule's example is being changed from a Reflecting Pool example to a more on-point Meteor Crater example.

And this rule is being created to more explicitly handle Reflecting Pool (as well as Fellwar Stone and other cards with mana abilities that check what type of mana other permanents "could produce"). This information already existed in the Glossary under "Mana," but didn't have its own rule.

This rule states that putting a triggered ability on the stack works much like playing an activated ability, and follows the same procedure. This isn't entirely true, though. If a triggered ability has a cost in it (like Flameblast Dragon's , for example), that cost is dealt with as the triggered ability resolves, not as it's put on the stack. This rule is being revised accordingly.

This rule is being created to cover triggered abilities that trigger when a player loses the game. (They trigger when a player concedes and when a judge awards a player a game loss, as well as when a player loses for an in-game reason.)

Rule 415.7c is being renumbered and moved here.

Minor rewording for clarity. (The word "first" is moving within its sentence.)

This rule is being created to cover "protection from everything."

The old rule 502.7g is being renumbered to this.

This is the "typecycling" rule. It's being expanded so it covers basic landcycling.

Glossary: Ability Word
"Domain" is being added to the list.

Glossary: Basic Landcycling
This is a new Glossary entry, though it's just a cross-reference to Typecycling.

Glossary: Mana
Minor rewording in the fifth paragraph. The sixth paragraph will now specify that tapping a permanent for mana refers specifically to playing a mana ability that meets all the other requirements, not to playing any ability that meets those requirements.

Glossary: Planeswalker Type
Bolas is being added to the list.

Glossary: Protection
A line is being added about protection from everything.

Glossary: Typecycling
The definition is expanding to cover basic landcycling.

Functional Oracle Changes
Übertemplating Oracle Changes
Other Nonfunctional Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rules Changes

Latest Feature Articles


January 27, 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Mechanics by, Matt Tabak

Kamigawa is a world familiar to many players. It is the birthplace of several beloved creature types, and its legends shape battlefields to this day. But the time of The Kami War is long ...

Learn More


January 27, 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Product Overview by, Harless Snyder

It's a beautiful day in Kamigawa as you ride your neon-wheeled motorcycle through the city center. Even in the daylight, the many neon signs glow bright with a magical aura, and you see a...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All