Comprehensive Rules Changes

Posted in News on June 1, 2022

By Jess Dunks

This is a summary of the changes to the official Magic rules that are planned to come with the release of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. If you're here looking for a summary of the new mechanics and how they work, please check out the set's mechanics article.

Keep in mind that the rules are still under review at the time of this writing. When they are published, they can be found on our rules page. If there should be a discrepancy between this summary and the official rules, the official rules take precedence.

New and Updated rules

Take the Initiative

721

Listed first here for obvious reasons, this is the new section that defines the initiative designation and everything associated with it. The rules for restarting the game, subgames, and so on have all been bumped down a number.

Venture into Undercity

205.3p

This new rule explains that Undercity, the new dungeon card in this set, also has a subtype. That subtype is Undercity. It's worth noting that while this subtype is used by the "venture into Undercity" ability (see below), no cards interact with dungeon types.

701.46d

This is the rule that explains how the "venture into Undercity" variant of venture into the dungeon works.

Choose a Background

702.124h

This rule explains choose a Background, a new variant of the partner ability. It means "you may designate two cards as your commander as long one of them is this card and the other is a legendary Background enchantment." This does not combine with any other partner ability, and only creatures with the choose a Background ability allow you to designate a Background enchantment as an additional commander.

Other rules changes

107.3n

This is a new addition to the list of ways X can be used on a card. One card, Storm King's Thunder, creates a delayed triggered ability that needs to know the X value that was paid for the spell. This rule makes that work.

111.5

This is the rule that says if a token can't enter the battlefield, it isn't created. Some added words here cover the case where you would make a token that is a copy of an instant or sorcery card. As you might expect, that token also won't be created.

112.2a

If you copy a spell on the stack, rule 112.2 tells you that the owner is the player who put it on the stack. However, many effects instruct a player to create a copy of a card, usually in exile, and then cast the copy. This new subrule explicitly says the owner of that copy is the player who is instructed to create it and given permission to cast it.

112.4

This general rule was slightly too broad. It said that if an effect changes any characteristics of a permanent spell, that continues to apply to the permanent the spell becomes. Rule 400.7 limits the scope of that to only certain effects, and this rule is now worded to better reflect that.

115.9

Wyll's Reversal is a new card that can only target a spell or ability "with one or more targets." 115.9 was the rule that handled looking for a spell with a single target, so it has been updated slightly to handle looking for any given number of targets.

400.7a

This is the rule that explains which effects applying to a permanent spell can continue to apply to the permanent it becomes on the battlefield. A tweak to this rule was missed in the last update, and that led to some confusion over the functionality of Henzie "Toolbox" Torre. Specifically, this change ensures that if you cast a spell with blitz using Henzie's effect, the permanent that spell becomes on the battlefield will continue to have blitz.

506.6

Firkraag, Cunning Instigator has a triggered ability that needs to know if a creature in combat "had to attack." This new addition to the combat phase rules defines what that means. Specifically, a creature "had to attack" if one or more effects requiring that creature to attack applied to it at the time that attackers were declared. This doesn't apply to creatures that entered the battlefield attacking because they were never declared as attackers. Note that there are some strange situations where the only legal attacks a player can declare include attacking with a creature that didn't actually have any such effects applying to it. In that case, Firkraag's ability will ignore those creatures.

601.4

This new rule expands a bit on how players make decisions while casting a spell. Specifically, the decisions listed in rule 601.2b, including things like choosing a spell's modes, the value of X in its cost, and whether they will pay any additional or alternative costs. Usually, players casting spells make these decisions in the order listed in that rule. For some spells, however, these decisions need to be made in a different order. For example, Inscription of Abundance is a modal spell with kicker and the text "Choose one. If this spell was kicked, choose any number instead." Choosing whether to pay a kicker cost is listed later in rule 601.2b than choosing modes, but for this spell, you need to choose whether to pay the kicker cost first to know how many modes you can choose. In all the discussion about Henzie, (see 400.7a above), we also saw some confusion about how players make choices in this situation. The new 601.4 is there to explicitly clear that up. Specifically for Henzie, you may use the blitz ability that it grants to cast a creature spell with an X in its mana cost if the chosen value for X is high enough to make the creature's mana value 4 or greater.

607.3

This is the rule that explains what to do if an object with a linked ability that refers to an exiled card has exiled more than one card. An added sentence explains that if an ability creates a token that is a copy of "the exiled card," and there is more than one exiled, that ability instead creates a token for each of those cards that is a copy of that card. Usually, this situation involves the first part of that ability having exiled a merged or melded permanent that was made up of several component cards.

608.3

This rule and its subrules explain how to resolve a permanent spell. Most of the words have changed here, but there isn't really a functional change to speak of. So why update it? Let me explain. Or skip the next paragraph and read the short version. It's up to you.

Up until now, this section stated that there was only one step in the process of resolving a permanent spell: just put the permanent on the battlefield! Easy, right? There was an exception listed for Auras, but that was also easily understood. Then, more recently, we added an exception for copies of permanent spells, then an exception for mutate. There were also a few other exceptions or additions to the process that were kind of hidden throughout the rules. For example, resolving a bestowed Aura with an illegal target is very similar to dealing with the same situation for mutate, but only mutate was mentioned in this section. Bestow felt left out! Some abilities can even cause permanent spells to have other effects as they resolve. All in all, there wasn't really anything wrong with individual rules in the section (or even the ones not in that section), but it was beginning to stack up with the kind of issues that bother the more pedantic humans among us (which I'm not ashamed to say includes me).

In conclusion, we decided to streamline it and make things clearer.

700.8

This rule and its subrules explain the party mechanic. One new card, Stick Together, instructs players to "choose a party" from among creatures they control. This is different from previous party effects, which only counted the number of creatures in your party. The section has been reworded and a new subrule added to explain that, to choose a party, each player chooses up to one creature they control for each of the appropriate creature types (Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard).

702.21b

Minthara, Merciless Soul has "Ward {X}, where X is the number of experience counters you have." A new ward subrule explains that the value of X is determined as the ward ability resolves. It isn't locked in when it triggers. This means that if you get more experience counters between the time it triggers and the time it resolves, your opponent will need to pay that much more mana to keep their spell from being countered.

702.122d

The rule for abilities that trigger when a Vehicle "becomes crewed" is expanded slightly to cover intervening "if" clauses that want information about the creatures that crewed it. That clause refers only to creatures that were tapped to pay the cost of the crew ability that caused it to trigger, not creatures that crewed it any other time.

702.124i

As we began to add variants of the partner ability to the game that don't use the word "partner," we realized that this would create confusion over what it means to "have partner." We've decided that, if a card refers to another card that has partner, it means only the partner and "partner with" mechanics, and not any other variants of partner.

702.145

This is the rule for the daybound keyword ability. As written, it would interact unintuitively in some corner cases involving a Clone entering the battlefield as a copy of daybound creature at night (a weird enough thing on its own). In that case, since the Clone can't enter the battlefield transformed, the rules for double-faced cards prevented the Clone from entering the battlefield at all! The daybound rule has been modified to only apply to permanents represented by transforming double-face cards.

705.1–2

These are the rules about flipping a coin. Like the steps for resolving a permanent spell, these have been reordered and streamlined a bit, but the function of these rules is largely unchanged, with one exception. Previously, the rules didn't technically require you to determine who wins or loses a coin flip unless the effect instructing you to flip a coin mentioned a winner or loser. This was a problem for Tavern Scoundrel, which has an ability that doesn't state it needs a winner, but still obviously does. Tavern Scoundrel is now more adequately covered by these rules.

903.13e

We used to call this subrule in the Commander Draft section "The Prismatic Piper" rule, as it covered how to use Prismatic Piper as your commander in the draft. I guess now we'll have to start calling it "The Prismatic Piper and Faceless One" rule. It just rolls right off the tongue.

New Subtypes

Creature Types

Gith, Walrus

Planeswalker Types

Elminster, Minsc, Tasha

Enchantment Types

Background

Dungeon Types

Undercity

New Glossary Entries

Background, choose a Background, initiative, venture into [quality]


Introduction
Comprehensive Rules Changes
Oracle Changes

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