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Comprehensive Rulebook Changes

 What are the Comprehensive Rules?  
Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have more than 12,000 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, Karn Liberated!). 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 (3.8 MB PDF). It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames... but you'll never miss them.


I previously forgot to include phenomena in this rule that lists card types.


Vraska is added to the list of Planeswalker types. I wouldn't recommend looking at this rule now. Better safe than stony.


This rule said, in part, "An ability word appears in italics at the beginning of some abilities on cards." Well, ability words aren't limited to cards, so I chopped off the last two words.


Added a mention of the Return to Ravnica block to this rule that talks about guild icons, faction icons, and other watermarks with no effect on game play.


This rule states that a card that's drawn while another spell is being cast is kept face down until that spell becomes cast. It's a pretty unusual situation, only coming up with cards like Chromatic Sphere. The idea is that you could start to cast a spell, pop the Sphere for mana in the middle of doing so, see that you're going to draw a spell you'd *rather* cast, and stop the casting of the original spell. For various reasons, including Magic Online shenanigans, we don't want you to cast spells on spec like that.

Okay, so what was wrong with the rule? Well, there wasn't support for face down cards in your hand, so technically those cards still had their characteristics. What's the problem there? Consider the top card of your library is Elvish Spirit Guide. You're in the middle of casting a spell and now it's in your hand face down. Can you exile it for mana? The intention is no, especially given that you're not supposed to know what the card is. So now, face down cards in your hand will be considered to have no characteristics until you're done casting the spell. They are just cards, which might be important to all you Overeager Apprentice fans out there.


This rule tells us... well, it used to tell us this:

603.2d Some trigger events use the word "becomes" (for example, "becomes attached" or "becomes blocked"). These trigger only at the time the named event happens—they don't trigger if that state already exists or retrigger if it persists. An ability that triggers when a permanent "becomes tapped" or "becomes untapped" doesn't trigger if the permanent enters the battlefield in that state.

Not triggering when a permanent enters the battlefield makes sense. As I said in the Bramble Elemental Oracle change explanation, Judge of Currents shouldn't trigger when your Merfolk enters the battlefield tapped. But with all due respect to the differences between Auras and Aura cards, saying that an Aura didn't become attached to something when it entered the battlefield attached to something was a little ridiculous. So, I researched the kinds of phrases we were talking about by searching for "becomes." Here they are:

  • Becomes tapped
  • Becomes untapped
  • Becomes attached
  • Becomes unattached
  • Becomes blocked
  • Becomes the target

I didn't include things like "becomes red" or "becomes a 1/1 blue Frog." Of these, only tapped and untapped represented the kinds of conditions we cared about with respect to permanents entering the battlefield, so the rule is being adjusted to reflect that.


This rule describes how a targeted spell or ability checks the legality of its targets when it tries to resolve. Specifically, it stated that the resolving spell or ability can't perform actions on an illegal target, nor can it make that target perform any actions. However, this didn't quite cover cases like Soul's Fire, which makes another object perform an action on the illegal target. The new rule clears it up by specifically stating that the resolving spell or ability also can't make another object perform actions on that target.


This rule describes how replacement effects modify a permanent entering the battlefield. I added a cross-reference to rule 616.1 (which talks about multiple replacement effects interacting). I thought it would be handy.


This new rule states that if you are instructed to search a zone for a card that matches an undefined quality, you search the zone but can't find cards. Lobotomy vs. an empty hand can produce this result. Subsequent rules were renumbered.


When I wrote the rules for transform, I neglected to really describe what "transforms into," seen on cards like Howlpack Alpha, really meant. Specifically, what happens if you have a single-faced card with this ability (probably because it's a copy of one face of a double-faced card) and it transforms? The answer is nothing happens: to transform into an object with a certain name, you must have some other name immediately before the transform instruction is carried out.


These are the new rules for detain. Wait here and think about them.


Okay, move along.


These are the new rules for populate. My instinct here was to make some "Gangnam Style" joke, but I've just recently caught up with that Carly Rae Jepsen thing, so I'm going to let it go.


Minor editing correction to the flashback rules.


These are the new rules for overload.


These are the new rules for scavenge.


These are the new rules for unleash.

Say, did you realize that Gatecrash or "Sinker" will probably cause the creation of rule 702.100? We'll have to start making more keyword actions so that section can catch up.


Moved the split card example that used to be attached to rule 708.6c to this rule instead. It seemed a much better fit.


I changed the rules governing removing a player from a multiplayer game. It used to be the following sequence was used to "clean up" that player's cards and other objects:

  • Objects owned by that player leave the game.
  • Effects that gave the player control of any objects or players end.
  • Spells and abilities controlled by that player cease to exist.
  • Any objects still controlled by that player are exiled.

The hole here is Step 3. Consider the case where a player casts a card that he or she doesn't own (using something like Sen Triplets). In response, that player leaves the game. Okay, so walking through the procedure:

  • It's not an object that player owns, so it stays on the stack. So far so good.
  • There isn't an effect that gave the player control of the object, so it stays on the stack. Okay.
  • It's a spell controlled by that player, so it must now cease to exist.

We'd prefer you not cause your opponent's cards to cease to exist. So, here's the new-and-improved procedure:

  • Objects owned by that player leave the game.
  • Effects that gave the player control of any objects or players end.
  • Any abilities or copies of spells controlled by the player cease to exist.
  • Any objects still controlled by that player are exiled.


New glossary entries: detain, overload, populate, scavenge, unleash.

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