September 2011 Update Bulletin

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Functional Oracle Changes

 What is Oracle?  

Magic is a game made up of over 12,000 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.

Color Indicator
Color indicator is a new characteristic introduced on the back face of the double-faced cards. These cards started out with a characteristic-defining ability saying "CARDNAME is [color]." We use this sort of ability most often when we have to define color and don't have a mana cost to rely on. But it's kind of ugly, and no one was really happy having to include it on a group of cards that we knew were going to be in the spotlight.

Well, what if we didn't need that text at all? For most players, the color of the frame loudly and clearly communicates color. You look at a card. It has a red frame. It's red. Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, not so simple. The gold frames used on multicolor cards have considerable equity, so the rules need something other than the frames to point at to define a card's color. Enter the color indicator.

Found just to the left of the type line, the color indicator is a circular symbol that indicates a card's color. It is most often used in the absence of a mana cost. Once we had decided on the color indicator for Innistrad's double-faced cards, we thought about other cards with a color-defining ability. As I said, no one was in love with those lines of text, so in the interest of consistency and aesthetics, we are applying a color indicator the cards listed below. They all will lose the line of rules text that previously defined their colors.

Ancestral Vision
Crimson Kobolds
Crookshank Kobolds
Dryad Arbor
Intervention Pact
Kobolds of Kher Keep
Living End
Pact of Negation
Pact of the Titan
Restore Balance
Slaughter Pact
Summoner's Pact
Transguild Courier
Wheel of Fate

Oh, as to why this is in the functional changes section? Well, there are a few small differences, but we've decided we're comfortable with them. One, they're all losing an ability, so some of those cards will have a newfound appreciation for Muraganda Petroglyphs. Two, cards like Mind Bend that change one color word into another won't affect the color of these cards. Three, Evermind no longer turns the spells it's spliced onto blue. Really, how weird was that? Four, Dryad Arbor behaves a little differently under a Blood Moon. Previously, it would become colorless. No, really. (In layer 4, it becomes a Mountain and thus loses all of its abilities, including the one that would make it green in layer 5.) Now, because color indicator is not an ability it can lose, it remains green. It ain't easy, but we think Dryad Arbor will be just fine.

New Creature Type: Werewolf
Innistrad introduces the creature type Werewolf. These three existing cards seem like good candidates for that creature type. Rumors that we're visiting a plane of werebears and less-than-clean wererats in 2014 are unsubstantiated.

Greater Werewolf
New creature type: Werewolf

Lesser Werewolf
New creature type: Werewolf

Treacherous Werewolf
New creature types: Werewolf Minion

Phyrexian Devourer
This card apparently was intended to never have power greater than 7. Unfortunately, the printed wording didn't quite accomplish this, opening a window to respond to what's now a triggered ability. There was errata on this card for some time that closed this window, but there's really no good reason to keep that, so we're returning that aspect of the card to its printed wording. We talked about the change to use +1/+1 counters but concluded that the reasons for that change are still valid.

New Phyrexian Devourer wording
When Phyrexian Devourer's power is 7 or greater, sacrifice it.
Exile the top card of your library: Put X +1/+1 counters on Phyrexian Devourer, where X is the exiled card's converted mana cost.

Thought Lash & Heart of Bogardan
These two enchantments have a consequence to not paying for their cumulative upkeeps beyond merely sacrificing them. Really, this consequence wants to be stapled onto the cumulative upkeep ability—a trigger within a trigger, if you will. Thought Lash especially wants to refer to the player who didn't pay the cumulative upkeep, not just the player who happened to control the enchantment when the upkeep wasn't paid (sorry, Zedruu the Greathearted).

New Heart of Bogardan wording
Cumulative upkeep {o2} (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.)
When a player doesn't pay Heart of Bogardan's cumulative upkeep, Heart of Bogardan deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls, where X is twice the number of age counters on Heart of Bogardan minus 2.

New Thought Lash wording
Cumulative upkeep—Exile the top card of your library. (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.)
When a player doesn't pay Thought Lash's cumulative upkeep, that player exiles all cards from his or her library.
Exile the top card of your library: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to you this turn.

Elder Spawn
Spawn is a creature type generally used on creature tokens, but it is a valid creature type. Elder Spawn was actually printed with the creature type Spawn, so there's really no reason not to change it back.

New creature type: Spawn

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