September 2008 Update Bulletin

Posted in News on September 24, 2008

By Mark L. Gottlieb

The Shards of Alara Prerelease is just a few days away (exciting!), which means that it's time for my semibiannual maintenance on 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, September 26.

Changes to the Comprehensive Rules will take effect shortly thereafter, though any changes that are necessary for Shards of Alara 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.

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.

The biggest news this time around is the errata to Time Vault, which will bring it back to its original functionality (or as close as we can get while still working within the rules). In fact, its new wording is so wonky that it's actually getting a new rule to allow it to work! You can find it by clicking on the "Functional Oracle Changes" link below.

The "Nonfunctional Oracle Changes" link brings you to a list of cards whose wordings are changing, but whose functionality is not. Why do we bother futzing around with the Oracle wordings of cards that work fine the way they are? In a few cases, we're fixing errors that have crept into Oracle. But mostly, it's to keep things consistent and eradicate obsolete wordings.

You see, Oracle isn't just a reference for you. It's an important tool for us as well. Each time a new card set is ready to be printed, it undergoes a process called "templating." During this process, the templating team determines the proper wording for each card in the set. We rely heavily on precedents: previously printed cards that do something similar to what a new card does. If we didn't pay attention to this, cards that work the same would say different things, and that'd just be confusing. But if cards that work the same also read the same, that streamlines the game a great deal.

What Are the Comprehensive Rules?

Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have over 9,000 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.

This time around, we discovered a group of 32 cards that all have a similar trigger condition. Twenty-nine of them say the same thing . . . and three of them (Frozen Solid, Stuffy Doll, and War Elemental) say something slightly different. Those three are being changed in Oracle to match the rest, and now a nonstandard template has been eliminated from Oracle. The next time a card with that trigger condition is designed, there will be no doubt as to what it should say.

Many of the suggestions that led to this round of Oracle and Comp. Rules changes were suggested by Alexander Deyke (whose Oracle Fu knows no bounds), Jacob Eakle, and the posters from the last update's message boards. As always, I'll be checking this update's message boards in advance of the next update, so feel free to post any suggestions or comments there.

Functional Oracle Changes

Time Vault
The big one. Although its wording is superficially similar to Mana Vault, it's intended to work quite differently. If you decide to untap Time Vault during your untap step, you're supposed to skip that turn. The one you already started. Well, that doesn't work so well. There's sort of a rule that says you can't skip a turn you've already started. Not to mention all the other permanents that you didn't untap during the untap step in which you untapped Time Vault. But we know what it's supposed to do. It's supposed to let you funnel a turn into the Vault, which untaps it and saves that turn for later. How can we pull this off?

New Oracle text:
Time Vault comes into play tapped.
Time Vault doesn't untap during your untap step.
If you would begin your turn while Time Vault is tapped, you may skip that turn instead. If you do, untap Time Vault.
{oT}: Take an extra turn after this one.

This is... weird. Unprecedented. Scary. If I were the Rules Manager, I wouldn't let this go out the door. Hold on, I'm being informed that I am the Rules Manager. What I meant to say was that if I were sane, I wouldn't let this go out the door. Lucky for all of us, sanity is not an ailment that I suffer from. So we're going to give this a shot. This ability is getting a rule written specifically to support it: the untap is considered to be the first thing that happens during the next step that actually takes place (in case any triggered abilities or state-based effects care).

Fasting
Let's look back to the printed wording. Here it is: "You may choose to skip your draw phase; if you do so, you gain 2 life. If you draw a card for any reason, Fasting is destroyed. During your upkeep, put a hunger counter on Fasting. When Fasting has five hunger counters on it, it is destroyed."

The printed wording said "destroy." The Oracle wording says "sacrifice." We can change it back. Also, the new Time Vault technology can get us closer to the original timing intent.

New Oracle text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a hunger counter on Fasting. Then destroy Fasting if it has five or more hunger counters on it.
If you would begin your draw step, you may skip that step instead. If you do, you gain 2 life.
When you draw a card, destroy Fasting.

Serra Avatar
This card was printed with a triggered ability: "When Serra Avatar is put into a graveyard, shuffle Serra Avatar into owner's library." It currently has a replacement ability in Oracle: "If Serra Avatar would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Serra Avatar, then shuffle it into its owner's library instead." Why the switch? Because the replacement comes closest to matching the original functionality of the card. Under the rules system in place at the time Serra Avatar was printed, you couldn't respond to the triggered ability by playing another spell or ability that would remove Serra Avatar from the game or return it to play before it got shuffled in.

This is yet another case where original functionality faces off against printed wording. What's more important: preserving the way the card originally worked, or allowing the card to work as you'd expect if you simply picked it up and read it? It's a judgment call. In some cases (such as Lake of the Dead, Master of Arms, and Armor of Thorns), we place a premium on the original functionality because they'd be too overpowered, too underpowered, or too confusing if they worked as printed. In other cases, the printed wording works fine under the modern system and we're OK with letting the current rules gently sway how the cards work. We've decided that Serra Avatar falls into the latter category.

New Oracle text:
Serra Avatar's power and toughness are each equal to your life total.
When Serra Avatar is put into a graveyard from anywhere, shuffle it into its owner's library.

Goblin Welder
Its current Oracle wording erroneously uses "the other artifact" to refer to an artifact card in a graveyard. Also, this card is trying to mimic an exchange, since its printed wording said to exchange a permanent with a card in a graveyard. This card won't be reverting to its printed wording, since an exchange shouldn't cause a permanent to go to the graveyard—it's not a sacrifice, it's not a destroy effect, and it's not a state-based effect. However, it may be able to get closer. Exchanges are simultaneous... so let's try that.

New Oracle text:
{oT}: Choose target artifact a player controls and target artifact card in that player's graveyard. If both targets are still legal as this ability resolves, that player simultaneously sacrifices the artifact and returns the artifact card to play.

Cauldron Dance
I believe this is the only card that tells you to "put" a permanent into a graveyard. As discussed above, this is highly unorthodox. It's being changed to a sacrifice instead.

New Oracle text:
Play Cauldron Dance only during combat.
Return target creature card from your graveyard to play. That creature gains haste. Return it to your hand at end of turn.
You may put a creature card from your hand into play. That creature gains haste. Its controller sacrifices it at end of turn.

Disharmony
This card's printed wording says "This creature is no longer considered to have attacked." That strongly implies that the creature should be removed from combat as part of the effect. If you target another player's creature, it's naturally removed from combat as part of the control-change effect. But if you target your own creature, Disharmony merely untaps it—it's still attacking! That needs to be fixed.

New Oracle text:
Play Disharmony only during combat before blockers are declared.
Untap target attacking creature and remove it from combat. Gain control of that creature until end of turn.

Aurification
As printed, this card turned creatures into Walls, which rendered them unable to attack. Currently, it grants creatures defender, which renders them unable to attack. But there's no reason it can't also turn them into Walls, since that's what the card says it does.

New Oracle text:
Whenever a creature deals damage to you, put a gold counter on it.
Each creature with a gold counter on it is a Wall in addition to its other creature types and has defender. (Those creatures can't attack.)
When Aurification leaves play, remove all gold counters from all creatures.

Freyalise's Winds
The printed wording of this card is "Whenever a permanent becomes tapped, put a wind counter on it. Permanents with any wind counters on them do not untap during their controller's untap phase; instead, remove all wind counters from those permanents." There are no line breaks... but Ice Age cards were real fuzzy with the line breaks. Because the second sentence references "permanents with any wind counters on them" (rather than referencing "that permanent" or the like), I think it's clear that the second sentence is a separate ability from the first sentence. Therefore, I don't think this card is supposed to grant abilities to permanents (as its current Oracle wording does); rather, I think this card is supposed to have the exact same wording as Temporal Distortion! (See the Nonfunctional Errata section for a minor update to Temporal Distortion's wording.)

New Oracle text:
Whenever a permanent becomes tapped, put a wind counter on it.
Permanents with wind counters on them don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, remove all wind counters from permanents that player controls.

Knowledge Vault
This card picked up an inexplicable "at end of turn" on its leaves-play ability that I tried to remove in the last Oracle update. It turns out that the addition was quite explicable: Without that addition, the card didn't work! Removing that text meant that sacrificing Knowledge Vault would cause the leaves-play trigger to put all the removed cards into the graveyard before the activated ability could put them into your hand.

I still don't like that "at end of turn," though, so I'm trying a different approach. Now, the sacrifice ability costs , and you don't sacrifice Knowledge Vault until it resolves. However, that ability gives you the cards only if you actually sacrifice Knowledge Vault this way. You can't activate the ability, somehow return it to your hand (or otherwise make it leave play), and expect to get the cards. Also, if you activate the ability and someone tries to destroy Knowledge Vault in response (thus preventing you from being able to sacrifice it when the ability resolves), you can just activate the ability again in response. It costs ! It's not exactly the same as intended, but it's really close—and, I believe, is closer than adding a delayed trigger to the other ability.

New Oracle text:
{o2}, {oT}: Remove the top card of your library from the game face down.
{o0}: Sacrifice Knowledge Vault. If you do, discard your hand, then put all cards removed from the game with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand.
When Knowledge Vault leaves play, put all cards removed from the game with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.

Triassic Egg
As originally printed in the Legends set, Triassic Egg didn't name what kind of counters to put on it. This was corrected when it was reprinted in Chronicles set; the card now instructed you to put hatchling counters on it. Somewhere along the way, this was changed in Oracle. The Oracle wording tells you to use incubation counters. These are pretty arbitrary names—no other card uses either hatchling counters or incubation counters—so I see no reason for the card not to match its printed functionality.

New Oracle text:
{o3}, {oT}: Put a hatchling counter on Triassic Egg.
Remove two hatchling counters from Triassic Egg, Sacrifice Triassic Egg: You may put a creature card from your hand or graveyard into play.

Hunting Pack
In the creature type update, we changed this card so it produces Cat Beast tokens, because the art shows a Cat Beast and there are other Cat Beasts in Onslaught block (Krosan Vorine, Chartooth Cougar). But that was an unnecessary change. Hunting Pack itself doesn't stay in play, so its art doesn't need to be rigidly followed with regard to the creature type. This'll go back to producing Beast tokens, which is what the printed card says.

New Oracle text:
Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token into play.
Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn.)

Remove Enchantments
The printed card is bizarre, complex, and printed in tiny type. The Oracle wording is reasonably short, and quite simple. What's the secret? The Oracle wording ignores or changes half of what the card is supposed to do!

This is the result of the printed wording:

 

  • Enchantments you both own and control are put into your hand.
  • Auras that you own but don't control, and that are attached to permanents you control, are put into your hand.
  • Auras that you own but don't control, and that are attached to attacking creatures your opponents control, are put into your hand.
  • Auras that you don't own, but that are attached to permanents you control, are destroyed.
  • Auras that you don't own, but that are attached to attacking creatures your opponents control, are destroyed.
  • Enchantments you don't own but do control, and that haven't been covered by the last two bullet points, are destroyed.

This is the result of the Oracle wording:

 

  • Enchantments you both own and control are put into your hand. (Check!)
  • Auras that you own but don't control, and that are attached to permanents you control, are destroyed. (Wait, what? They're supposed to be returned to your hand!)
  • Auras that you own but don't control, and that are attached to attacking creatures you don't control, are destroyed. (Again, this should return them to your hand, and it shouldn't affect Auras attached to your teammate's attacking creatures.)
  • Auras that you don't own, but that are attached to permanents you control, are destroyed. (Check!)
  • Auras that you don't own, and that are attached to attacking creatures you don't control, are destroyed. (Not quite—this shouldn't affect Auras attached to your teammate's attacking creatures.)
  • Enchantments you don't own but do control, and that haven't been covered by the last two bullet points, are not affected. (And these are supposed to be destroyed.)

New Oracle text:
Return to your hand all enchantments you both own and control, all Auras you own attached to permanents you control, and all Auras you own attached to attacking creatures your opponents control. Then destroy all other enchantments you control, all other Auras attached to permanents you control, and all other Auras attached to attacking creatures your opponents control.

Cyclopean Tomb
In the last update, Cyclopean Tomb got a new wording that allowed it to obey the rule that states that counters of the same name are indistinguishable. But it still had a problem. Once it leaves play, the upkeep triggers stick around forever. Say I play Cyclopean Tomb, put a mire counter on a land, then that Tomb is destroyed. During my next upkeep, I remove a mire counter from that land, so it's no longer a Swamp. Later, I play a different Cyclopean Tomb and put a mire counter on the same land (since it's hard to keep track of which land is which). During my next upkeep, the first Tomb's eternal triggered ability removes a mire counter from that land! Bad times. So this card is getting a tweak to its new wording. It's pretty brutal to read, but the upshot is that the card basically does what it says it does.

New Oracle text:
{o2}, {oT}: Put a mire counter on target non-Swamp land. That land is a Swamp as long as it has a mire counter on it. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
When Cyclopean Tomb is put into a graveyard from play, at the beginning of each of your upkeeps for the rest of the game, remove all mire counters from a land that a mire counter was put onto with Cyclopean Tomb but that a mire counter has not been removed from with Cyclopean Tomb.

Apocalypse Chime, City in a Bottle, Golgothian Sylex
There are two issues with this trio.

1. If a card's printed wording uses "cards" as a way to refer to permanents, we interpret that today as "nontoken permanents." (Tokens aren't cards.)

2. City in a Bottle interprets the printed wording "discarded from play" as "sacrificed by its controller." Golgothian Sylex interprets the same printed wording as "destroy." The Sylex is being changed to match City in a Bottle's interpretation.

Apocalypse Chime's new Oracle text:
{o2}, {oT}: Sacrifice Apocalypse Chime: Destroy all nontoken permanents from the Homelands expansion. They can't be regenerated.

City in a Bottle's new Oracle text:
Whenever a nontoken permanent from the Arabian Nights expansion other than City in a Bottle is in play, its controller sacrifices it.
Players can't play cards from the Arabian Nights expansion.

Golgothian Sylex's new Oracle text:
{o1}, {oT}: Each nontoken permanent from the Antiquities expansion is sacrificed by its controller.

Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

Howling Mine and friends
Howling Mine tells you to draw a card at the beginning of your draw step. Well, duh! Of course I draw a card at the beginning of my draw step. I do it every turn!

This group of cards didn't make it clear enough that this is a bonus card that you draw in addition to your normal draw. The wording of this kind of ability will now say that you draw an "additional card" just to make this clear.

Howling Mine's new Oracle text:
At the beginning of each player's draw step, if Howling Mine is untapped, that player draws an additional card.

Here are the other affected cards (you can guess what their wordings will be): Anvil of Bogardan, Grafted Skullcap, Heightened Awareness, Kami of the Crescent Moon, Malignant Growth, Overbeing of Myth, Rites of Flourishing, Spiteful Visions, Sylvan Library

Iron Maiden, Wheel of Torture
These two cards have consistency issues and confusion issues. The consistency issue is that Iron Maiden's wording doesn't match cards with similar functionality like Black Vise, Viseling, and Ivory Tower, while Wheel of Torture's wording doesn't match similar cards like The Rack, Rackling, and Storm World.

The confusion issue is that Iron Maiden and Wheel of Torture each says that it "deals 1 damage to that player for each [something or other]." That sounds like a bunch of discrete 1-damage pings, but it's not. The card calculates the amount of damage, then deals it in one lump sum. A card like Circle of Protection: Artifacts can prevent all the damage with just one activation.

We discussed aligning Stabwhisker the Odious in the same way, but we didn't for a couple of reasons. One is that it deals with life loss, not damage, so the confusing interactions are drastically decreased. The other is that if we gave it the same errata, it could never be reprinted because the new wording wouldn't fit into a split card's text box.

Iron Maiden's new Oracle text:
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, Iron Maiden deals X damage to that player, where X is the number of cards in his or her hand minus 4.

Wheel of Torture's new Oracle text:
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, Wheel of Torture deals X damage to that player, where X is 3 minus the number of cards in his or her hand.

Leeches
This is another "deal 1 damage for each [something or other]" card. It can be changed.

New Oracle text:
Target player loses all poison counters. Leeches deals that much damage to that player.

Phyrexian Negator
This card does something "for each 1 damage" that's been dealt. This is a very unusual wording outside of complex damage prevention effects. It can be synched up with Phyrexian Totem, which has a better, cleaner wording.

New Oracle text:
Trample
Whenever Phyrexian Negator is dealt damage, sacrifice that many permanents.

Candles Glow, Chant of Vitu-Ghazi
These cards say "You gain 1 life for each damage prevented this way." The life and damage don't have to be treated as discrete units; these cards can match cards like Purity or Intervention Pact that say "You gain life equal to the damage prevented this way."

Candles' Glow's new Oracle text:
Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn. You gain life equal to the damage prevented this way.
Splice onto Arcane {o1oW} (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

Chant of Vitu-Ghazi's new Oracle text:
Convoke (Each creature you tap while playing this spell reduces its cost by {o1} or by one mana of that creature's color.)
Prevent all damage that would be dealt by creatures this turn. You gain life equal to the damage prevented this way.

Oath of Lim-Dûl
This card's wording ("Whenever you lose life, sacrifice a permanent other than Oath of Lim-Dul or discard a card for each 1 life you lost") is confusing. Although you can make a new choice (sacrifice or discard) for each discrete point of life loss, this is not at all clear; it seems that you must choose one of the actions and perform it for each life lost. This is being changed so it's more readily understood.

New Oracle text:
Whenever you lose life, for each 1 life you lost, sacrifice a permanent other than Oath of Lim-Dûl unless you discard a card. (Damage dealt to you causes you to lose life.)
{oBoB}: Draw a card.

Call to Arms, Jihad
These cards tell you to choose an opponent as they come into play. Then a later ability refers to "the chosen opponent." But that's not accurate—that ability keeps checking the chosen player whether or not that player happens to be your opponent at the current time. This could be relevant if your opponent gains control of your Call to Arms, for example. The wordings will still tell you to choose an opponent, but now they'll reference "the chosen player."

Call to Arms's new Oracle text:
As Call to Arms comes into play, choose a color and an opponent.
White creatures get +1/+1.
When the chosen color isn't the most common color among permanents the chosen player controls, sacrifice Call to Arms.

Jihad's new Oracle text:
As Jihad comes into play, choose a color and an opponent.
White creatures get +2/+1.
When the chosen player controls no nontoken permanents of the chosen color, sacrifice Jihad.

Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
We've been using a new template for Slobad's ability (it's also seen on the Shards of Alara card Spearbreaker Behemoth), so Slobad is getting updated to the new standard.

New Oracle text:
Sacrifice an artifact: Target artifact is indestructible this turn. ("Destroy" effects and lethal damage don't destroy that artifact.)

Static abilities that affect "all other" things
We used to use "all other" on static abilities. For example, Urborg Shambler says "All other black creatures get -1/-1." The modern wording for these kind of abilities is to simply say "other." For example, Crovax, Ascendant Hero says "Other white creatures get +1/+1." Six cards are being updated accordingly, purely by deleting the word "all."

They are: Aura Flux, Sterling Grove, Stronghold Taskmaster, Urborg Shambler, Vampirism, Zombie Master

Energy Field, Forbidden Crypt, Leyline of the Void
Leaves-play triggered abilities work differently than most other triggered abilities. Leaves-play triggered abilities look at the game state just before the ability triggers. Most other triggered abilities look at the game state just after the ability triggers. The specific differences don't matter here; it's only important to understand that there is a difference.

Cards like Compost, Countryside Crusher, and others have abilities that trigger whenever certain cards are put into certain graveyards no matter what game zone those cards come from. It would be confusing and impractical to have these abilities work like leaves-play triggered abilities when dealing with permanents that go to the graveyard, but work like normal triggered abilities when dealing with non-permanents that go to the graveyard. We also run up against the policy that we never refer to permanents as "cards." So the ruling on these abilities is that they never work like leaves-play triggered abilities, even when dealing with permanents.

To help make that clear, abilities that care about cards going to the graveyard from anywhere actually say "from anywhere" right in the ability. This includes cards that only care about themselves hitting the graveyard (like Dread), and replacement effects that aren't triggers at all (like Wheel of Sun and Moon). Energy Field, Forbidden Crypt, and Leyline of the Void fall into this class of cards, so their abilities are getting "from anywhere" added to them so they match the rest.

Energy Field's new Oracle text:
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you by sources you don't control.
When a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, sacrifice Energy Field.

Forbidden Crypt's new Oracle text:
If you would draw a card, return a card from your graveyard to your hand instead. If you can't, you lose the game.
If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove that card from the game instead.

Leyline of the Void's new Oracle text:
If Leyline of the Void is in your opening hand, you may begin the game with it in play.
If a card would be put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.

Faith Healer
If a permanent is sacrificed as a cost and the effect refers to the sacrificed permanent, that's what it says: "the sacrificed [permanent]." Faith Healer had drifted away from that, even though that's how it was printed.

New Oracle text:
Sacrifice an enchantment: You gain life equal to the sacrificed enchantment's converted mana cost.

Temporal Distortion
"Permanents with an hourglass counter on them" should be "permanents with hourglass counters on them." That's the norm, as seen on Kulrath Knight, Rimefeather Owl, and Rimescale Dragon.

New Oracle text:
Whenever a creature or land becomes tapped, put an hourglass counter on it.
Permanents with hourglass counters on them don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, remove all hourglass counters from permanents that player controls.

Animate Land
Animation abilities use "is a creature" on static abilities (Living Terrain, March of the Machines) and "becomes a creature" on abilities with limited durations (Lifespark Spellbomb, Karn's Touch). Animate Land falls into the latter category, but was worded as though it were in the former category.

New Oracle text:
Until end of turn, target land becomes a 3/3 creature that's still a land.

Spatial Binding
It says "upkeep step" when it only needs to say "upkeep." Ertai's Familiar, for example, displays the correct wording. Only the word "step" is being deleted.

Island Fish Jasconius
This card referred to itself three times as "Jasconius." That's a shortcut we employ on legendary cards—for example, Phage the Untouchable refers to itself twice as "Phage." Island Fish Jasconius, however, is not legendary. There are tons of those things floating around in the ocean (apparently)! It'll now always refer to itself by its full name.

New Oracle text:
Island Fish Jasconius can't attack unless defending player controls an Island.
Island Fish Jasconius doesn't untap during your untap step.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay {oUoUoU}. If you do, untap Island Fish Jasconius.
When you control no Islands, sacrifice Island Fish Jasconius.

Diligent Farmhand, Pardic Firecat
If a card refers to another card by name, it doesn't just use that name—it says "a card named [that name]." These two cards didn't match that standard, so they're getting updated to the norm.

Diligent Farmhand's new Oracle text:
{o1oG}, Sacrifice Diligent Farmhand: Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.
If Diligent Farmhand is in a graveyard, effects from spells named Muscle Burst count it as a card named Muscle Burst.

Pardic Firecat's new Oracle text:
Haste
If Pardic Firecat is in a graveyard, effects from spells named Flame Burst count it as a card named Flame Burst.

Omen
This card should have the exact same wording as Ponder. It's being synched up with that card.

New Oracle text:
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library.
Draw a card.

Harmonic Convergence
This card "returns" objects from play to the top of their owners' libraries. "Return" is never used this way; the cards should be "put" on top of that library.

New Oracle text:
Put all enchantments on top of their owners' libraries.

Auriok Steelshaper, Lovisa Coldeyes
It's a little unclear whether the abilities on these cards affect creatures with all the listed creature types or they affect creatures with either of the listed creature types. (It's either.) They're getting an "and" changed to an "and/or" to help make this clear.

Auriok Steelshaper's new Oracle text:
Equip costs you pay cost {o1} less.
As long as Auriok Steelshaper is equipped, Soldier and/or Knight creatures you control get +1/+1.

Lovisa Coldeyes's new Oracle text:
Warrior, Berserker, and/or other Barbarian creatures get +2/+2 and have haste.

An-Havva Inn
Life-gain effects always state who's gaining the life.

New Oracle text:
You gain X plus 1 life, where X is the number of green creatures in play.

Charisma
This card said "you control that creature," even though the standard template (as seen on Sower of Temptation) is "gain control of that creature."

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

Game Preserve, Paroxysm
The reminder text on these cards is outmoded (more recent cards like Cruel Deceiver and Counterbalance don't have it) and misleading. These cards manipulate cards on top of players' libraries—but those cards never actually leave those libraries. The reminder text says that those cards are "put back" or "returned" to those libraries, which strongly implies that those cards have left the library. For these reasons, the reminder text is being stricken from Oracle.

Clockwork Avian
In one of its abilities, Clockwork Avian erroneously refers to itself as "Clockwork Beast." That's an easy fix.

Frozen Solid, Stuffy Doll, War Elemental
These three cards have the trigger condition "When[ever] damage is dealt to [something]." Twenty-nine other cards have the trigger condition "When[ever] [something] is dealt damage." These cards are being synched up with the others to remove the nonstandard template from Oracle.

Frozen Solid's new Oracle text:
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.
When enchanted creature is dealt damage, destroy it.

Stuffy Doll's new Oracle text:
As Stuffy Doll comes into play, choose a player.
Stuffy Doll is indestructible.
Whenever Stuffy Doll is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to the chosen player.
{oT}: Stuffy Doll deals 1 damage to itself.

War Elemental's new Oracle text:
When War Elemental comes into play, sacrifice it unless an opponent was dealt damage this turn.
Whenever an opponent is dealt damage, put that many +1/+1 counters on War Elemental.

Faces of the Past, Turnabout
Rule 413.2c says that if a spell or ability offers you a choice as it resolves, you can't choose an option that's impossible. These cards say to tap or untap all of a certain set of cards. Can you tap all of them if one of the cards in that set is already tapped? Tapping a tapped permanent is impossible. Same deal for untapping an untapped permanent. Hmmm. In addition, these cards are really confusing. It's ambiguous whether they let you individually apply the "tap or untap" action to each permanent in the set, or whether you have to pick "tap or untap" and apply it to everything. I'm trying some new wordings for these cards that are longer, but should be unambiguous.

Faces of the Past's new Oracle text:
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, tap all untapped creatures that share a creature type with it or untap all tapped creatures that share a creature type with it.

Turnabout's new Oracle text:
Choose artifact, creature, or land. Tap all untapped permanents of the chosen type target player controls, or untap all tapped permanents of that type that player controls.

Solfatara
We have two wordings for this kind of ability. Some cards say "can't play lands" and others, such as Moonhold and Turf Wound, say "can't play land cards." Given the cards that currently exist in the game, the two wordings mean exactly the same thing. Solfatara was printed with the latter wording, but it has the former wording in Oracle. As long as we're OK with allowing both wordings to concurrently exist, Solfatara's Oracle wording might as well match its printed wording.

New Oracle text:
Target player can't play land cards this turn.
Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

Phyrexian Portal
This card was changed in the last update to make it clear which cards are shuffled into your library. However, the forum feedback was that the new wording still wasn't very clear. So let's try again.

New Oracle text:
{o3}: Target opponent looks at the top ten cards of your library and separates them into two face-down piles. Remove one of those piles from the game. Search the other pile for a card, put it into your hand, then shuffle the rest of that pile into your library. Play this ability only if your library has ten or more cards in it.

Keldon Battlewagon
This card and Impelled Giant have largely the same ability. Impelled Giant introduced a new, clearer wording for this ability, so Keldon Battlewagon's wording is being changed to match.

Cards that say "sacrifice a [permanent]" in a cost often later refer to "the sacrificed [permanent]." However, when the cost is "tap an untapped [permanent] you control," referring to "the tapped [permanent]" later on may be confusing, since that permanent may no longer be tapped by the time the ability resolves. Impelled Giant refers to "the [permanent] tapped this way," which is unambiguous. ("The sacrificed [permanent]" doesn't have this problem because things can't become unsacrificed!)

New Oracle text:
Trample
Keldon Battlewagon can't block.
When Keldon Battlewagon attacks, sacrifice it at end of combat.
Tap an untapped creature you control: Keldon Battlewagon gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the power of the creature tapped this way.

Serra's Hymn
We have a more modern template for dividing damage prevention, as seen on cards like Angel of Salvation.

New Oracle text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a verse counter on Serra's Hymn.
Sacrifice Serra's Hymn: Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt this turn to any number of target creatures and/or players, divided as you choose, where X is the number of verse counters on Serra's Hymn.

Sabertooth Cobra
This card currently uses the word "prevent" in an ability that doesn't prevent damage. It can be simplified by just deleting some words, which would bring it closer in line with cards like Glass Asp.

New Oracle text:
Whenever Sabertooth Cobra deals damage to a player, he or she gets a poison counter. That player gets another poison counter at the beginning of his or her next upkeep unless he or she pays {o2} before that turn. (A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.)

Counterintelligence, Plow Under
We have two wordings for spells and abilities that send multiple cards to a new zone. If we can assume with reasonable certainty that all the cards have the same owner (because they all have the same controller, for example) the spell or ability says "their owner's [zone]." It's OK if the cards happen to have different owners—the spell or ability still works fine, and sends each card to the proper place. The wording is like this just to match the greatest expectation.

In other cases, the spell or ability says "their owners' [zones]." Again, it's OK if the cards all have the same owner.

There's a fuzzy middle area occupied by cards like Plow Under, Counterintelligence, Rebuking Ceremony, Undo, and Aven Augur. The first two say "their owner's [zone]" while the last three say "their owners' [zones]." Since Aven Augur and Rebuking Ceremony are the most recent, Plow Under and Counterintelligence are being changed to match.

Counterintelligence's new Oracle text:
Return one or two target creatures to their owners' hands.

Plow Under's new Oracle text:
Put two target lands on top of their owners' libraries.

Ice Cauldron
This card got errata in the last update, but one of its sentences can be made a little easier to parse. The sentence "Add mana of Ice Cauldron's last noted type and amount to your mana pool" is being changed to "Add Ice Cauldron's last noted type and amount of mana to your mana pool."

New Oracle text:
{oX}, {oT}: Put a charge counter on Ice Cauldron and remove a nonland card in your hand from the game. As long as that card remains removed from the game, you may play it. Note the type and amount of mana spent to pay this activation cost. Play this ability only if there are no charge counters on Ice Cauldron.
{oT}, Remove a charge counter from Ice Cauldron: Add Ice Cauldron's last noted type and amount of mana to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to play the last card removed from the game with Ice Cauldron.

Raging River
This card was changed recently. However, that change used the phrase "flying creatures" rather than the proper phrase "creatures with flying."

Pestilence Rats
This card has a nonstandard use of "total." The word is simply being deleted.

Void Maw
This card's Oracle wording had an extraneous "it" that's getting deleted. It was a remnant of the last Oracle change.

Acidic Dagger
This card's Oracle wording had an extraneous "before" that's getting deleted. It was a remnant of the last Oracle change.

Torrent of Lava
This card's tap symbol wasn't formatted properly in Oracle, so that's getting fixed.

Nature's Blessing
This card erroneously had a colon where it should have a comma.

Nature's Chosen
This card's Oracle wording had an extraneous comma that's getting deleted.

Nature's Wrath
Its last two abilities are being switched so they're in the standard color order (first the ability that cares about blue things, then the ability that cares about black things).

Comprehensive Rules Changes

102.3
This rule covers conceding the game. What it says is different than the Glossary entry about conceding the game. The rule is being changed to match the Glossary entry: A player who concedes leaves the game, then loses the game.

206.2
This rule will now incorporate mythic rares, which have a red-orange expansion symbol.

217.1d
This rule is getting reworked a bit to broaden and clarify it. There are some cases it should cover that it's not clear that it does in its current form.

306.5
This rule is getting rewritten to clarify the difference between "attacks alone" and "is attacking alone" (which is important due to the Bant keyword exalted), as well as the difference between "blocks alone" and "is blocking alone."

402.2
This rule describes the main kinds of abilities. But it leaves out one: the abilities that form the instructions you follow when an instant or sorcery is resolving. They're neither activated, triggered, nor static; they fall outside the typical classifications.

402.5
This rule talks about countering abilities. We're clarifying that this rule is talking only about activated and triggered abilities. In addition, it will now mention that static abilities don't use the stack and thus can't be countered.

403.1
This rule describes activated abilities. It's being changed to specify that a play restriction that an activated ability may have is separate from its effect even though it appears after the colon.

403.3 & 403.4
These rules are swapping numbers, but are otherwise unchanged.

408.1i
This rule says that one of the special actions is "ending continuous effects or stopping delayed triggered abilities." It will now say "stopping delayed triggered abilities from triggering or ending continuous effects."

408.2g
This rule was missing a close quote.

408.2i
Same change as 408.1i.

409.1b
The modal description will now include "Choose one or both —" to cover Branching Bolt.

409.1c
The second sentence ("A player can't play a spell or ability unless he or she chooses the required number of legal targets") would seem to exclude playing spells that cause your opponent to choose the targets (such as Evangelize does). The sentence is being changed to passive voice to eliminate the ambiguity.

419.5b
This rule is being moved into the "Costs" section as rule 424.6. It's getting broadened: It'll now cover "[X]. If you do, [Y]" effects, where [X] is mandatory; it'll also cover "if you don't" effects. It's getting reworded for clarity and specificity, and it'll get some examples.

419.6e
The word "action" is being changed to "event" to match the Glossary definition of "skip."

419.6g
This rule was about modal replacement effects, of which there was only one: Time Vault's most recent Oracle wording. Since Time Vault is changing, this rule can be deleted. As it happens, Time Vault's new Oracle wording (as well as Fasting's new Oracle wording) needs a rule that states what happens if an effect causes a player to skip as step, phase, or turn as well as perform another action.

419.9a
This rule governs what happens if two or more replacement or prevention effects are trying to happen at once. It's being modified to handle the Shards of Alara card Gather Specimens in a way that best conforms to intuition.

420.3
This rule will now state that all state-based effects resolve simultaneously as a single event.

420.6
This rule is being created to cover a corner case involving the Shards of Alara card Lich's Mirror. It will specify that if multiple state-based effects would have the same result at the same time, a single replacement effect will replace all of them.

421.3
This is a rule in the "Loop" section. It uses the term "first player" without defining it; it's being rephrased in terms of who the active player is.

421.5
This rule is being rewritten to better get its point across.

421.6
This rule is being created to cover a corner case involving the Shards of Alara card Prince of Thralls (and probably some other cases). It will state that if an effect written as "[someone does X] unless [someone does Y]" is part of a loop, no one can be forced to do [Y] to break the loop.

424.6
See 419.5b above.

502.15m
This is the rule in the phasing section that says that a permanent that phases in behaves as though it had haste. It didn't cover activated abilities that contain the untap symbol; now it will.

502.84
This rule is being created to cover devour.

502.85
This rule is being created to cover exalted.

502.86
This rule is being created to cover unearth.

511.3
This rule is clarifying what can be used as a "coin" in a coin flip.

606.8c
This rule covers a Two-Headed Giant team conceding the game. It's getting the same update as 102.3.

Glossary: Ability
The second paragraph is being moved to the "Activated ability" definition. A new paragraph is being added that lists the different kinds of abilities.

Glossary: Activated Ability
This will now cover play restrictions (like 403.1), and it picked up a new line from the "Ability" entry.

Glossary: Activation Cost
This is getting some minor clarification.

Glossary: Attack Alone
See the note about rule 306.5 above.

Glossary: Block Alone
See the note about rule 306.5 above.

Glossary: Devour
Added.

Glossary: Exalted
Added.

Glossary: Expansion Symbol
The definition will now state that color indicates rarity.

Glossary: Flip a Coin
See the note about rule 511.3 above.

Glossary: Keyword Action
Fixing a typo; "verb" should be "verbs."

Glossary: Modal, Mode
This will now include "Choose one or both —" to cover Branching Bolt. The last line is being deleted since the Time Vault errata means there are no more modal replacement effects.

Glossary: Planeswalker Type
Elspeth, Sarkhan, and Tezzeret are being added to the list.

Glossary: Trigger, Triggered Ability
Some more information is being added about what happens to a triggered ability that's put on the stack.

Glossary: Unearth
Added.

Introduction
Functional Oracle Changes
Nonfunctional Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rules Changes

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