January 2009 Update Bulletin

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Other Nonfunctional Oracle Changes

Abeyance & Hand to Hand
These cards refer to playing instants and/or sorceries, but they should refer to playing instant spells and/or sorcery spells.

New Abeyance Oracle text:
Until end of turn, target player can't play instant spells, sorcery spells, or activated abilities that aren't mana abilities.
Draw a card.

New Hand to Hand Oracle text:
Instant spells and activated abilities that aren't mana abilities can't be played during the combat phase.

Adarkar Unicorn & Snowfall
These cards were printed with the same mana restriction, but their wordings are now different in Oracle for no good reason. Neither of them match the optimal wording.

New Adarkar Unicorn Oracle text:
{T}: Add either {U} or {1U} to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to pay cumulative upkeep costs.

New Snowfall Oracle text:
Cumulative upkeep {U} (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.)
Whenever an Island is tapped for mana, its controller may add {U} to his or her mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces). If that Island is snow, its controller may add {UU} to his or her mana pool instead. Spend this mana only to pay cumulative upkeep costs.

Apocalypse Chime
An errant colon is being changed to a comma.

New Oracle text:
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Apocalypse Chime: Destroy all nontoken permanents from the Homelands expansion. They can't be regenerated.

As printed, the controller of the triggered ability was the one that the card instructed to untap all creatures and lands. Somewhere along the way, this changed so that the card instructs each player to untap his or her own stuff. There's no particular reason for that, so it's being changed back.

New Oracle text:
At the beginning of each upkeep, untap all creatures and lands.

This was missing a comma.

New Oracle text:
Until end of turn, any time you could play a mana ability, you may pay 1 life. If you do, add {1} to your mana pool.

This was missing the word "of."

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

Dreams of the Dead
The last sentence is currently "If the creature would leave play, remove it from the game instead." The strange thing about this ability is that if the creature would leave play because it's being removed from the game, it winds up being removed from the game—this ability doesn't do anything in that case. Or, more accurately, it replaces an event with an identical event. To avoid this needless and bizarre case, the flashback and unearth rules both end with "remove it from the game instead of putting it anywhere else." So this will too.

New Oracle text:
{1U}: Return target white or black creature card from your graveyard to play. That creature gains "Cumulative upkeep {2}." If the creature would leave play, remove it from the game instead of putting it anywhere else.

Dystopia, Putrefaction, Reign of Terror, Snow Hound
When two color words are listed in a card's text, their relative order is the same as the order we use for those mana symbols in a mana cost. We don't rigidly go white-blue-black-red-green. Rather, we check the shortest distance between those two colors on the color wheel, as seen on the back of every card. That means green is often the trickiest, since it comes last in standard WUBRG order, but comes first when listed with just white or just blue.

New Dystopia Oracle text:
Cumulative upkeep—Pay 1 life. (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.)
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices a green or white permanent.

New Putrefaction Oracle text:
Whenever a player plays a green or white spell, that player discards a card.

New Reign of Terror Oracle text:
Destroy all green creatures or all white creatures. They can't be regenerated. You lose 2 life for each creature put into a graveyard this way.

New Snow Hound Oracle text:
{1}, {T}: Return Snow Hound and target green or blue creature you control to their owner's hand.

Essence Sliver
There was a typo in its reminder text; "gain" is becoming "gains."

New Oracle text:
All Slivers have lifelink. (Whenever a Sliver deals damage, its controller gains that much life.)

Hanna's Custody
The proper wording for this ability starts with "all."

New Oracle text:
All artifacts have shroud. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities.)

The wording is getting a bit streamlined.

New Oracle text:
Activated abilities of creatures cost {1} less to play. This effect can’t reduce the amount of mana an ability costs to play to less than 1 mana.

Hull Breach
The "Choose one or both" modal wording introduced on Branching Bolt is being put into use here, since that's now the standard template for this kind of ability.

New Oracle text:
Choose one or both — Destroy target artifact; or destroy target enchantment.

Invasion Plans
Master Warcraft provides a good precedent regarding the best wording for the second ability.

New Oracle text:
All creatures block each turn if able.
The attacking player chooses how each creature blocks each turn.

Lost Order of Jarkeld
This card has you choose an opponent as it comes into play, then it refers to that opponent later. But after the choice has been made, it doesn't actually matter if the chosen player is an opponent of Lost Order of Jarkeld's controller. If the chosen player takes control of Lost Order of Jarkeld, for example, the creature's ability will still refer to that player—and still work—even though the player obviously isn't his or her own opponent. For that reason, the second ability is changing so that it refers to the "chosen player," which is much clearer. Jihad and Call to Arms got the same fix recently, but this card was overlooked.

New Oracle text:
As Lost Order of Jarkeld comes into play, choose an opponent.
Lost Order of Jarkeld's power and toughness are each equal to 1 plus the number of creatures the chosen player controls.

Magnetic Web
This card shouldn't have "this turn" in its first ability.

New Oracle text:
If a creature with a magnet counter on it attacks, all creatures with magnet counters on them attack if able.
Whenever a creature with a magnet counter on it attacks, all creatures with magnet counters on them block that creature this turn if able.
{1}, {T}: Put a magnet counter on target creature.

Pallid Mycoderm
This card's last ability is a little ambiguous, so it's being changed to a wording similar to the one used on Lovisa Coldeyes.

New Oracle text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a spore counter on Pallid Mycoderm.
Remove three spore counters from Pallid Mycoderm: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.
Sacrifice a Saproling: Fungus and/or Saproling creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

Pillar of the Paruns
This was the first card that added a single mana to your mana pool with a restriction on what that mana could be spent on. Since then, Primal Beyond and a new card in Conflux have established the standard wording for that restriction: It's phrased in the plural even though there's only one mana. This synchs it up with other such restrictions, and it makes more sense if Mana Reflection is in play.

New Oracle text:
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to play multicolored spells.

Promise of Bunrei
If a card has a triggered ability that will typically trigger only once, it starts with "When," not "Whenever." Although Promise of Bunrei's ability certainly could trigger more than once (if multiple creatures you control are put into the graveyard simultaneously, or if a creature you control is put into the graveyard while the trigger is already on the stack), the fact that you must sacrifice Promise of Bunrei when the ability resolves really puts it into the "When" camp.

New Oracle text:
When a creature you control is put into a graveyard from play, sacrifice Promise of Bunrei. If you do, put four 1/1 colorless Spirit creature tokens into play.

Seize the Soul
This is getting a comma between "nonwhite" and "nonblack," the way Terror has a comma between "nonartifact" and "nonblack."

New Oracle text:
Destroy target nonwhite, nonblack creature. Put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying into play.
When the creature Seize the Soul haunts is put into a graveyard, destroy target nonwhite nonblack creature. Put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying into play.

Thalakos Deceiver
Unlike Promise of Bunrei, this ability could easily trigger multiple times, since you may choose not to sacrifice Thalakos Deceiver when it resolves. For that reason, it should start with "Whenever," not with "When."

New Oracle text:
Shadow (This creature can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Whenever Thalakos Deceiver attacks and isn't blocked, you may sacrifice it. If you do, gain control of target creature. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Volrath's Laboratory
It's getting an additional "a" in its first ability, and the placement of "this turn" is moving in its second ability.

New Oracle text:
As Volrath's Laboratory comes into play, choose a color and a creature type.
{5}, {T}: Put a 2/2 creature token of the chosen color and type into play.

Volrath's Shapeshifter
Oh, Volrath's Shapeshifter. Sometimes when the rules are systemically changed for the betterment of the game as a whole, and for most cards in general, one or two cards get thrown under the bus. That's what happened to Volrath's Shapeshifter. When the continuous effect layer system was implemented, different kinds of continuous effects were broken out so they'd apply in a set sequence. It was determined that copy effects would apply before control-change effects because all existing cards—except one—would work that way. (Switching those layers to save Volrath's Shapeshifter is not an option; if we did, Copy Enchantment copying Confiscate, or Clone copying Sower of Temptation, to name a couple of more modern examples, would cease to work as you'd expect.)

The reason Volrath's Shapeshifter breaks under the layer system is that it cares about the top card of its controller's graveyard—so its copy effect is dependent on who controls it. Say Player A controls Volrath's Shapeshifter, then Player B Confiscates it. Volrath's Shapeshifter will continue to look at Player A's graveyard. That's because Volrath's Shapeshifter knows who its original controller was, and its copy effect is applied before Confiscate's control-change effect is applied to swing it over to Player B.

To handle this, Volrath's Shapeshifter's effect was changed from a copy effect to a text-changing effect (which happens after control-change effects). Most text-changing effects change a single word of text, like Mind Bend does. Volrath's Shapeshifter changes all its text, and expands the definition of "text" to include color and mana cost, among other things. It's ugly, but it does the trick.

I'd love to tell you that I have an elegant fix for this card, and that's why it's on the list. Nope. I'm deleting some unnecessary text from the card, putting in a comma, and fixing the italicization of its reminder text. (The unnecessary text is that Volrath's Shapeshifter's ability says that it works "as long as Volrath's Shapeshifter is in play," but that goes without saying, so this is just redundant.)

New Oracle text:
As long as the top card of your graveyard is a creature card, Volrath's Shapeshifter has the full text of that card and has the text "{2}: Discard a card." (Volrath's Shapeshifter has that card's name, mana cost, color, types, abilities, power, and toughness.)
{2}: Discard a card.

Yawgmoth's Agenda
Its first ability has a more modern standard template, as seen on Colfenor's Plans and (in a modified form) on Rule of Law.

New Oracle text:
You can't play more than one spell each turn.
You may play cards in your graveyard.
If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.

Functional Oracle Changes
Übertemplating Oracle Changes
Other Nonfunctional Oracle Changes
Comprehensive Rules Changes

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