Archenemy: Nicol Bolas Release Notes

Posted in News on June 16, 2017

By Wizards of the Coast

Compiled by Eli Shiffrin, with contributions from Laurie Cheers, Carsten Haese, Nathan Long, Zoe Stephenson, Matt Tabak, and Thijs van Ommen.

Document last modified March 27, 2017

The Release Notes include information concerning the release of a new Magic: The Gathering set, as well as a collection of clarifications and rulings involving that set's cards. It's intended to make playing with the new cards more fun by clearing up the common misconceptions and confusion inevitably caused by new mechanics and interactions. As future sets are released, updates to the Magic rules may cause some of this information to become outdated. If you can't find the answer you're looking for here, please contact us at wizards.com/CustomerService.

The "General Notes" section includes release information and explains the mechanics and concepts in the set.

The "Card-Specific Notes" section contains answers to the most important, most common, and most confusing questions players might ask about cards in the set. Items in the "Card-Specific Notes" section include full card text for your reference. Not all cards in the set are listed.


GENERAL NOTES

Release Information

The Archenemy: Nicol Bolas set is a single boxed set that contains four 60-card decks of traditional Magic cards plus a supplementary deck of 20 oversized scheme cards.

Release Date: June 16, 2017

Inclusion in the Archenemy: Nicol Bolas set doesn't change what formats a card is legal in. Most of the cards in this set are not legal in the Standard format.

Go to Magic.Wizards.com/Rules for a complete list of formats and permitted card sets.

Go to Wizards.com/Locator to find an event or store near you.


God-Pharaoh Nicol Bolas Attacks!

The Elder Dragon Planeswalker Nicol Bolas is too strong to face alone—can a team of heroes overcome his awesome power? Archenemy is a casual variant in which one player assumes the role of the archenemy, and all the other players team up to oppose him or her. The archenemy is aided by a supplemental deck of oversized scheme cards, which add additional effects to the game.

Each player needs his or her own deck of traditional Magic cards. The archenemy also needs his or her own scheme deck, including at least 20 scheme cards with no more than two of any scheme card with a particular English name. The Archenemy: Nicol Bolas set includes these five decks, which you may then customize with additional cards from other sets and schemes from the original Archenemy set. You can even use your own decks to personalize your experience.


Playing an Archenemy Game

An Archenemy game is played between two teams. One team is the archenemy alone. The opposing team may have any number of players; an Archenemy game is best with three players opposing the archenemy.

Before the game begins, each player shuffles his or her traditional Magic deck and the archenemy also shuffles his or her scheme deck. The archenemy's scheme deck is placed face down next to his or her library.

The archenemy starts the game with 40 life. Each other player starts the game with 20 life. The archenemy takes the first turn of the game and doesn't skip his or her draw step on the first turn in a multiplayer game.

The archenemy declares whether he or she will take a mulligan first. Then the players on the other team do the same. Teammates may consult while making their decisions. Then all mulligans are taken at the same time. The first time a player takes a mulligan in a multiplayer game, he or she draws a new hand of seven cards rather than six cards. Subsequent hands decrease by one card as normal. The process then repeats among the players who took mulligans. A player may take a mulligan even after his or her teammate has decided to keep his or her opening hand.

Immediately after the archenemy's precombat main phase begins during each of his or her turns, including the first turn of the game, that player sets the top card of his or her scheme deck in motion (see below for information on scheme cards). This turn-based action doesn't use the stack. Abilities that trigger as a result of that scheme being set in motion do use the stack.

The archenemy's attacking creatures attack individual players and/or planeswalkers, not the opposing team as a whole. The archenemy can attack more than one player and/or planeswalker at once—the seating of those players doesn't matter. As the archenemy declares attackers, he or she announces which player or planeswalker each one is attacking.

During the declare blockers step, each defending player declares blockers. A player's creatures may block any creatures that are attacking a teammate or a planeswalker controlled by a teammate. This is a change from previous rules for the Archenemy variant.


Scheme Your Way to Victory

Scheme cards are oversized Magic cards that feature the "Archenemy" back (as opposed to the "Deckmaster" back). Each scheme card represents one of the cunning gambits Nicol Bolas has arranged on the plane of Amonkhet.

This World Belongs to Me
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, draw two cards. You may play an additional land this turn.

  • Scheme cards start the game in a zone called the "command zone." They remain there throughout the game.
  • Scheme cards have no mana cost. They can't be cast as spells. They're not permanents. Since scheme cards have no mana costs, they're all colorless.
  • A scheme card may have any number of static, triggered, and/or activated abilities. As long as a scheme card is face up in the command zone, its static abilities affect the game, its triggered abilities may trigger, and its activated abilities may be activated.
  • Each turn, the top card of the scheme deck is "set in motion" by the archenemy. To set a scheme in motion, the archenemy reveals the top card of his or her scheme deck.
  • Most scheme cards have abilities that trigger "When you set this scheme in motion." When such an ability triggers, it's put on the stack, then players may respond by casting spells and activating abilities.
  • If a scheme card is face up in the command zone and no triggered ability of a scheme is on the stack or waiting to be put on the stack (either because they've resolved, been countered, or left the stack after triggering because no legal targets could be chosen), that scheme card is turned face down and put on the bottom of its owner's scheme deck. This is a state-based action. Ongoing schemes (see below) are exempt from this.
  • Some schemes have the supertype "ongoing." An ongoing scheme remains face up until an effect causes it to be "abandoned." An abandoned scheme is turned face down and put on the bottom of its owner's scheme deck.
  • If an effect would cause a scheme card to leave the command zone, it doesn't; the scheme card remains in the command zone. If an effect would bring a scheme card into the game from outside the game, it doesn't; the scheme card remains outside the game.

Shared Team Turns

Archenemy uses the shared team turn option, just as the Two-Headed Giant multiplayer variant does.

  • All players on the opposing team take their turn at the same time. They all begin their draw steps and their declare attackers steps at the same time, for example.
  • Each player on the opposing team draws a card during that team's draw step.
  • Each player on the opposing team may play a land during each of that team's turns.
  • Attacking creatures controlled by any member of the opposing team all attack at the same time. Each one must attack the archenemy or a planeswalker the archenemy controls. A player's creature can never attack its controller or a teammate of its controller.
  • The "active team" is the team whose turn it is. That may be the archenemy, or it may be the opposing team.
  • The opposing team as a whole (rather than the individual players on it) gets priority. If that team has priority, any player on that team may cast a spell, activate an ability, or take a special action. If no player on that team wishes to do anything, the team passes priority.
  • The player seated in the opposing team's rightmost seat (from their perspective) is its primary player. Whenever possible, each player on that team makes his or her own choices. However, if the players on that team fail to agree on a choice, such as which creatures attack or what order triggered abilities are put on the stack, the primary player makes that choice. In the unlikely event that this comes up, the archenemy has already managed to fracture your teamwork and your team is in trouble.
  • Although the opposing team's turn is shared, its resources (cards in hand, mana, and so on) are not shared. Teammates may review each other's hands and discuss strategies at any time.
  • Each player on the opposing team is an individual with his or her own life total. If one of those players leaves the game, the rest of the players continue to play.
  • If more than one player would make choices and/or take actions at the same time, first each player on the active team (whether that's the archenemy or the opposing team) makes any choices required in whatever order they like, then the players on the other team do the same. Once all choices have been made, the actions happen simultaneously.
  • If an effect instructs more than one player to draw cards, first each player on the active team (whether that's the archenemy or the opposing team) performs his or her draws in whatever order that team likes, then each player on the other team does the same.
  • If multiple triggered abilities have triggered since the last time a team received priority, first the members of the active team (whether that's the archenemy or the opposing team) put all triggered abilities they control on the stack in any order they choose, then the members of the other team do the same.
  • If an effect gives a player on the opposing team an extra turn, or adds a phase or step to that player's turn, that team takes the extra turn, phase, or step. If an effect causes a player on the opposing team to skip a step, phase, or turn, that team does so. If a single effect causes more than one player on the opposing team to add or skip the same step, phase, or turn, the team adds or skips only that step, phase, or turn. If an effect causes the archenemy to control another player on the opposing team, the archenemy controls every player on that team.

Leaving the Game

Unlike in a two-player game, a multiplayer game continues after a player leaves the game (whether that player lost the game or conceded).

  • When a player leaves the game, all permanents, spells, and other cards owned by that player also leave the game.
  • If that player controlled any abilities or copies of spells that were waiting to resolve, they cease to exist.
  • If that player controlled any permanents owned by another player, the effects that gave control of them to the player who left end. If that doesn't give control of them to a different player (perhaps because they entered the battlefield under the control of the player who left), they're exiled.

Winning the Game

  • The archenemy wins the game if all his or her opponents have lost the game, or if an effect states that the player wins the game.
  • The opposing team wins the game if the archenemy has lost the game, or if an effect states that a member of that team wins the game.
  • If the opposing team wins the game, each member of that team wins, even those that had previously lost.

Supervillain Rumble Option

If you have additional scheme cards from Archenemy: Nicol Bolas or from the original Archenemy set, you could have enough to create multiple scheme decks. The world just isn't big enough for that many evil plots—maybe you'd be interested in the Supervillain Rumble option, where each player is an archenemy, to determine who's the biggest and baddest villain of them all.

  • Each player must have his or her own scheme deck.
  • There are no teams. Rather, the players play a Free-for-All game.
  • The starting player is randomly determined. All other rules that apply to the archenemy in an Archenemy game apply to each player in a Supervillain Rumble game. Most importantly, each player sets a scheme in motion during each of his or her precombat main phases.
  • A player wins the game when all his or her opponents have lost the game, or when an effect says that player wins the game.

CARD-SPECIFIC NOTES

Because I Have Willed It
Ongoing Scheme
(An ongoing scheme remains face up until it's abandoned.)
Spells you cast cost 1 less to cast.
At the beginning of your opponents' end step, if they cast four or more spells this turn, abandon this scheme.

  • Abilities that reduce the cost of a spell apply after abilities that raise them. For example, Borrowed Malevolence with both modes chosen costs 1B to cast if this scheme is face up.
  • Effects that reduce the generic mana cost of a spell can't reduce that spell's colored mana requirements.
  • If an instant or sorcery spell has X in its mana cost, choose the value for X first, then reduce the cost by 1. For example, Volcanic Geyser with X chosen as 4 costs 3RR to cast if this scheme is face up.
  • For this scheme's second ability to trigger, the players on the opposing team must have cast four spells total among them.
  • If an opponent cast a spell during the opposing team's turn and then left the game, that spell counts when determining whether the last ability of this scheme triggers.
  • The second ability only checks that four or more spells were cast. It doesn't matter if those spells are countered or fail to resolve for other reasons.
  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, the last ability of this scheme triggers at the beginning of each opponent's end step if that player alone has cast four or more spells that turn.

Behold My Grandeur
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, add UBR to your mana pool.
When you set this scheme in motion, if you control six or more lands, you may search your library for a card with converted mana cost 6 or greater, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

  • This scheme's first ability isn't a mana ability. Opponents may respond to it before you have that mana.
  • This scheme adds mana during your precombat main phase. If you don't spend it before you move to your combat step, it will empty from your mana pool as your main phase ends.
  • The number of lands you control is checked as you set this scheme in motion and again as its second ability resolves. Once this scheme has been set in motion, you can't play a land or use an effect to put one onto the battlefield before the second ability could trigger.

Bow to My Command
Ongoing Scheme
(An ongoing scheme remains face up until it's abandoned.)
As you set this scheme in motion, choose an opponent.
Creatures the chosen player controls can't attack you or planeswalkers you control.
At the beginning of your opponents' end step, they may tap any number of untapped creatures they control with total power 8 or greater. If they do, abandon this scheme.

  • If the chosen player leaves the game, this scheme isn't abandoned, but its middle ability won't have any effect anymore. You won't choose a new player.
  • If multiple abilities trigger at the beginning of your opponents' end step, first their abilities are put onto the stack in any order, and then you put your abilities onto the stack in any order. Your abilities resolve before theirs do.
  • To pay the cost of this scheme's second ability, your opponents collectively need to tap creatures with total power 8 or greater. Those creatures may be controlled by different teammates.
  • Your opponents may tap creatures that came under their control this turn to pay the cost of this scheme's last ability.
  • Once your opponents have chosen to tap creatures, you can't take any action until they're tapped and this scheme has been abandoned.
  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, this scheme's last ability triggers at the beginning of each opponent's end step. Only that player may tap untapped creatures he or she controls.

Choose Your Demise
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, look at the top four cards of your library and separate them into a face-down pile and a face-up pile. An opponent chooses one of those piles. Put the cards in that pile into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

  • You choose one opponent to make the final choice of which pile is put into your hand, but all players may discuss and advise this choice.
  • You don't have to reveal the cards in the face-down pile, no matter which zone they're put into. Resist the urge to gloat at the heroes if their decision serves your master plan.
  • The split doesn't have to be even. The piles can be split with a single card in one pile and three cards in another. A pile can even have zero cards in it—in this case, an opponent chooses whether to put all the cards into your hand or into your graveyard.

Delight in the Hunt
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, create a 3/3 black Horror creature token and prevent all damage that would be dealt to creatures you control this turn.

  • This scheme's effect prevents damage that would be dealt to any creature you control this turn, even those that come under your control later in the turn.

Every Dream a Nightmare
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, each opponent discards a card. You draw a card for each land card discarded this way.

  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, first the next player in turn order chooses a card in hand without revealing it, then each other opponent in turn order does the same. Then all the chosen cards are discarded simultaneously.

For Each of You, a Gift
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, for each opponent, create a 3/3 black Horror creature token that attacks that player each combat if able.

  • Each Horror token can attack only the player it was created for. It can't attack a planeswalker that player controls.
  • If two or more effects require a creature to attack different players or planeswalkers, such as that of this scheme and that of Gideon Jura's first ability, that creature's controller chooses one to fulfill.
  • If one of these creatures can't attack its player during a given turn (perhaps because that player has left the game, or because a member of the opposing team has gained control of it), it may attack another player, attack a planeswalker an opponent controls, or not attack at all. If there's a cost associated with having that creature attack its player, you aren't forced to pay that cost, so it may attack another player, attack a planeswalker an opponent controls, or not attack at all.

Know Evil
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, until your next turn, up to one target opponent can't attack with creatures, up to one target opponent can't cast creature spells, and up to one target opponent can't cast noncreature spells. You can't target any player more than once.

  • You can't target the same player more than once with this scheme's ability. This ability doesn't affect choosing targets for spells and other abilities.
  • The player who can't cast noncreature spells can still play lands.
  • If you don't have three opponents left, you choose which effects won't have a target. For example, if you have only one opponent left, you can choose no target for the first or second effect and just stop that player from casting noncreature spells.
  • If you leave a Supervillain Rumble game after setting this scheme in motion but before your next turn begins, its effects last until your next turn would have begun. They neither expire immediately nor last indefinitely.

Make Yourself Useful
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, destroy target creature an opponent controls. If a creature is destroyed this way, you gain life equal to its toughness.

  • If the target creature isn't destroyed, most likely because it has indestructible, you won't gain any life. The same is true if the target creature leaves the battlefield before this scheme's triggered ability resolves.

My Forces Are Innumerable
Ongoing Scheme
(An ongoing scheme remains face up until it's abandoned.)
At the beginning of your end step, create a 3/3 black Horror creature token.
At the beginning of your opponents' end step, they may sacrifice two creatures. If they do, abandon this scheme.

  • To pay the cost of this scheme's second ability, your opponents need to sacrifice two creatures total. Those creatures may be controlled by different teammates.
  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, this scheme's last ability triggers at the beginning of each opponent's end step. Only that player may sacrifice creatures.

My Laughter Echoes
Ongoing Scheme
(An ongoing scheme remains face up until it's abandoned.)
Whenever you set a non-ongoing scheme in motion, you may abandon this scheme. If you do, set that scheme in motion again.

  • You may resolve the new non-ongoing scheme's triggered ability before you decide whether or not to set it in motion again.

No One Will Hear Your Cries
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, each opponent chooses a creature he or she controls, then sacrifices the rest.

  • If an opponent controls no creatures, that player isn't affected by this scheme.
  • All of the other creatures are sacrificed simultaneously after the opposing team chooses which creatures to keep.
  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, first the next player in turn order chooses a creature, then each other opponent in turn order does the same. Then the other creatures are sacrificed simultaneously.

Pay Tribute to Me
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, each opponent sacrifices a creature. If you control six or more lands, each opponent sacrifices another creature.

  • The number of lands you control is checked as this scheme's triggered ability resolves. You can't play a land during your turn before it resolves.
  • The opposing team chooses one creature controlled by each player on that team to sacrifice, then the chosen creatures are sacrificed simultaneously. If you control six or more lands, repeat this process.
  • If a creature has an ability that triggers when it or another creature dies, that ability won't resolve until after the scheme's triggered ability has completely resolved.
  • If a creature has an ability that triggers when another creature dies, it will see other creatures sacrificed at the same time as it. If it's sacrificed as one of the first creatures, it won't see the creatures sacrificed the second time.
  • In a Supervillain Rumble game, first the next player in turn order chooses a creature, then each other opponent in turn order does the same. Then the chosen creatures are sacrificed simultaneously. Then repeat this process if you control six or more lands.

Power Without Equal
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, draw three cards. You have no maximum hand size until your next turn. If you control six or more lands, you may cast up to three nonland cards from your hand without paying their mana costs.

  • The number of lands you control is checked as this scheme's triggered ability resolves. You can't play a land during your turn before it resolves.
  • If you control six or more lands, you'll draw three cards and get to cast three spells for free. No player may take any actions between the time you draw three cards and the time you finish casting free spells.
  • If you cast a card "without paying its mana cost," you can't pay any alternative costs, such as emerge costs. You can, however, pay additional costs. If the card has any mandatory additional costs, such as that of Tormenting Voice, you must pay those to cast the card.
  • If the card has X in its mana cost, you must choose 0 as the value of X when casting it without paying its mana cost.
  • You must cast any of the three spells you wish to cast for free while this scheme's ability is resolving. You'll have to pay the mana cost of any spells cast later in the turn, even if you cast fewer than three as you resolved this ability. The spells will be added to the stack in the order that you cast them.

There Is No Refuge
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, it deals 3 damage to up to one target creature. Create a 3/3 black Horror creature token.

  • If you choose a target creature and it becomes an illegal target by the time this scheme's triggered ability would resolve, the entire ability is countered. You won't create a Horror token.
  • You can choose to target zero creatures. If you do, you'll still create the Horror token.

This World Belongs to Me
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, draw two cards. You may play an additional land this turn.

  • This scheme's effect allows you to play an additional land during your main phase. Doing so follows the normal timing rules for playing lands.
  • The effects of this scheme's triggered ability in multiples within the same turn are cumulative. It's also cumulative with other effects that let you play additional lands, such as that of Explore.

What's Yours Is Now Mine
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, gain control of target creature an opponent controls and untap it.

  • You control that creature indefinitely. If the owner of the target creature leaves the game, that creature leaves the game as well.
  • You can target and gain control of an untapped creature this way.
  • This scheme doesn't grant haste to the target creature. It won't be able to attack during this turn unless it has haste or somehow gains haste.
  • Auras and Equipment attached to that creature remain attached, but you don't gain control of them.

When Will You Learn?
Scheme
When you set this scheme in motion, each opponent exiles the top card of his or her library. You may cast any number of nonland cards exiled this way without paying their mana costs.

  • If you cast a card "without paying its mana cost," you can't pay any alternative costs, such as emerge costs. You can, however, pay additional costs. If the card has any mandatory additional costs, such as that of Tormenting Voice, you must pay those to cast the card.
  • If the card has X in its mana cost, you must choose 0 as the value of X when casting it without paying its mana cost.
  • You must cast any of the exiled cards you wish to cast for free while this scheme's ability is resolving. You can't wait until later in the turn. Any cards not cast this way remain exiled for the rest of the game. The spells will be added to the stack in the order that you cast them.
  • If the owner of one of the exiled cards leaves the game, that card leaves the game as well.
  • Now you have learned.

Magic: The Gathering, Magic, Archenemy, and Nicol Bolas are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the USA and other countries. ©2017 Wizards.

Latest News Articles

NEWS

Statement on Ixalan Double-Faced Cards Card Stock by, Wizards of the Coast

A number of non-foil, double-sided Ixalan cards in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), and Korean were mistakenly printed on the incorrect card stoc...

Learn More

NEWS

October 17, 2017 Banned and Restricted Announcement by, Ian Duke

Announcement Date: October 17, 2017 All formats: No changes Effective Date: October 17, 2017 Magic Online Effective Date: October 17, 2017 The list of all banned and restricted cards...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

News Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page or by clicking Yes, you are giving your consent for us to set cookies. (Learn more about cookies)

No, I want to find out more