Gatecrash Update Bulletin

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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 (2.1 MB PDF). It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames… but you'll never miss them.

We fixed some style errors throughout the document that were causing some incorrect indentations.


Added a sentence to this rule to clarify that if there's a restriction on how mana can be spent and that restriction is based on an undefined choice, that mana can't be spent. See also the changes to 706.7a.


Minor change to clarify that while triggered abilities all include the word "when," "whenever," or "at," they don't always begin with that word.


Domri added to the list of Planeswalker types.


Battalion and bloodrush added to the list of ability words.


This rule defined the loyalty of a Planeswalker not on the battlefield but should say "Planeswalker card."


This rule says that if you draw a card while another spell is being cast or another ability is being activated, that card is kept face down until you finish casting the spell or activating the ability. Added a sentence to clarify that if an effect (such as miracle) allows or instructs you to reveal the card as it's being drawn, it's revealed after the spell is cast or the ability is activated.


This rule covers how you cast a face-down card in exile, but really it should say play, as cards like Praetor's Grasp can let you play a face down, exiled land card.


This rule explains how a permanent that's both a blocking creature and a Planeswalker that's being attacked is removed from combat only if it stops being a creature and a Planeswalker. Well, there are other ways to remove such a permanent from combat (say, by regenerating it), so the slightly inaccurate "only" is being removed.


This rule covers linked abilities, defined as two abilities printed on an object such that one of them causes actions to be taken or objects to be affected and the other one directly refers to those actions or objects. Technically, players could also be affected by a pair of linked abilities (such as the ones printed on Stuffy Doll), so the rule is getting tweaked to reflect that.


This rule helps define the set of objects that is affected by a continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability. If the effect modifies the characteristics or changes the controller of any objects, the set is determined when the effect begins and doesn't change. For example, if you cast Glorious Charge, only creatures you control when it resolves get the bonus. If you cast a creature later that turn, or gain control of a creature later that turn, that creature doesn't get the bonus. However, if that continuous effect doesn't modify the characteristics of or change control of any objects, the set isn't locked in. For example, if you cast Fog, all combat damage dealt that turn will be prevented. It doesn't matter whether the creature dealing the damage was on the battlefield when Fog resolved or not.

Here's where the change comes in. Rarely, a continuous effect will do both: one part will modify characteristics and another part won't. Teleportal cast with overload is a good example. In cases like this, the set of objects each part affects is determined independently. Only creatures on the battlefield when Teleportal resolves will get +1/+0, but every creature you control (including ones that show up after Teleportal resolves) will be unblockable.


This is a new rule that states if a replacement effect modifies how a permanent enters the battlefield and requires a choice, that choice is made before the permanent changes zones. Hopefully, this clarifies what happens if you control Future Sight and the top card of your library is Stomping Ground. (You choose whether to pay 2 life before seeing the next card.)


Fixed a typo by changing "preventions effects" to "prevention effects."


This rule is the definition of the term "dies." I removed the sentence that explained when it was used because it wasn't really a rule. It was just a templating guideline, and some people found this confusing. For example, if a creature with an ability that triggers when it dies is turned into a noncreature and is then destroyed, the ability will trigger.

702.18b, first example

The word "and" was missing from the first sentence.


Remember when I said an ability that affected the cost of a spell applied to that spell on the stack (if, for no other reason, because spells don't exist anywhere else)? Yeah, well, the rules for overload didn't get that memo. They used to say the part of overload that let you cast it for its overload cost applied in any zone in which the spell with overload could be cast. That's not correct. It applies on the stack.


The new rules for an ability I can't tell you about, created by a guild I can't tell you about. Okay, it's cipher.


The new rules for evolve.


The new rules for extort.


Nope, not yet. But soon!


Say you have a pair of linked abilities, and one of them asks you to choose a value or name a card, and the second one refers to that choice. This rule explains that if the first ability is copied, the choice isn't remembered and can't be used for other abilities that may copy it later. For example, if a creature becomes a copy of Voice of All (as opposed to entering the battlefield as a copy of it, in which case you can choose a color), there's no choice of color for the copy, so its protection ability doesn't do anything. Specifically, the rule said "If an ability refers to an undefined choice, that part of the ability won't do anything." But "won't do anything" was pretty vague. For example, let's say you have a Thespian's Stage that's a copy of Cavern of Souls. No choice of creature type was made for Thespian's Stage, so that part of the ability won't do anything. I imagine four reasonable interpretations of this:

  • The restriction of having to spend that mana on a spell of a particular creature type doesn't apply. You can spend this mana on any spell, and it can't be countered.
  • The whole last sentence doesn't apply. You can spend the mana on any spell. It can be countered.
  • The whole ability doesn't apply. You can't activate it.
  • The effect doesn't apply. You can activate it, but it won't produce mana.

So, we're cleaning up the rule a bit to simply say the choice of creature type for the Thespian's Stage is undefined. Also, rule 106.6 clarifies what can be done with mana that can be spent only on a restriction based on an undefined choice. (It can't be spent.)


This rule told you that a flip card's color, mana cost, expansion symbol, illustration credit, and legal text don't change if the permanent is flipped. But who cares about the last two? They're not game-relevant.


When I wrote the rules information for Planechase (2012 Edition), I indicated that abilities from phenomena would stay on the stack if their controller left the game. Control would just pass to the new planar controller. That really sounds fun, but I completely forgot to actually put that in the rules. Oops.

So, now that's the rule. Maybe you've been playing it this way along. Maybe you weren't and now you will. Maybe you still play with interrupts and damage prevention windows and I can take my newfangled rules and shove them. Since Planechase is a casual format, I'm sure a lot of variation exists. But, this was an error that needed to be corrected, and now it has been.

As a side note, the FAQ also indicated that chaos abilities would also remain on the stack. We decided that isn't actually what we wanted, so this change wasn't made.

New glossary entries: cipher, encoded, evolve, extort.

Some minor legal text updates were also made.

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