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Journey into Nyx Update Bulletin

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The letter M!ost of the time, the Update Bulletin gives everyone a sneak preview of the Comprehensive Rules and Oracle changes coming with the launch of a new set. Unfortunately, this time around the article you're now reading was delayed. Sorry about that! So, all the changes I'm about to talk about have already happened. I assume this didn't cause a distortion in the space-time continuum.

On the plus side, if I'm going to be late with a set's Update Bulletin, boy did I pick the right set. Journey into Nyx has two new mechanics that play well and have plenty of cool interactions... but as ability words they don't have any actual, you know, rules. There weren't that many cards in Oracle to look at, either. Most of the work done was of a "clean-up" nature, with one notable exception we'll talk about later. Because we didn't change much this time around, the format of this article will be compressed to one page. I assume this didn't cause a distortion in the space-time continuum.

If you have a card or rule that you think needs the attention of the rules team, please let us know by replying to this article below. Thanks to everyone who contributed this time around. Let's get started!

Oracle Changes

 What is Oracle?  

Magic is a game made up of more than 13,000 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.

Reconnaissance (functional)

Why not start with the most notable one? When this Exodus card was created, it had a simple mission. If your attacking creature ended up in a spot you didn't expect—perhaps your opponent cast a surprise blocker or a Giant Growth you didn't see coming—you could bring it home. The rules at the time didn't allow the creature to deal or be dealt combat damage because there wasn't a window to activate the ability.

But along came the Sixth Edition rules and everything changed. Now, there was an opportunity to untap the creature after it had dealt combat damage but while it was still an attacking creature. Sure, the creature was removed from combat, but that hardly seemed to matter. It could be used to efficiently give any of your creatures "pseudo-vigilance."

Time passed.

A lot of time.

Maybe too much time.

Eventually, the card was brought to my attention. Here was a card that didn't just have its functionality shift under a new rules set (such as anything with a sacrifice ability and combat damage going off the stack), it was practically a different card. I'm not sure how much play it got, but if anyone was playing it today, it almost certainly wasn't because of its original design intent. One important goal of Oracle text is staying true to that design intent. So Reconnaissance had (roughly) the same words it always did, but it was a vastly different card. That seemed very wrong to me. We came up with a wording that restored its original functionality.

Old wording:

0: Remove target attacking creature you control from combat and untap it.

New wording:

0: Remove target attacking creature you control from combat and untap it. Activate this ability only before the combat damage step.

End of story? Well, not quite. Because this change made its way to Gatherer before I could tell anyone about it, people started talking. Why were we changing this card so many years after the fact? If this card changed, why didn't Maze of Ith and cards like it change? After all, the functionality is nearly identical. And why wasn't the Vanguard card Oracle changed? (That one's easy: hilariously, my Oracle search failed to find it. Oops.) These are good questions, and ones we take seriously.

So consider this situation still under review. The change is in, and the text you find in Gatherer is correct, but this may not be the last time we talk about this card.




Shroud reminder text (nonfunctional)

Shroud used to be an evergreen keyword ability, so several cards with shroud didn't have reminder text. Plus, the cards that did have reminder text had some inconsistencies. Since shroud hasn't appeared for a while now, it seems reasonable that anyone looking up a card with shroud in Gatherer might not know what shroud did. So I did a pass on those cards and cleaned up the reminder text. In a few cases, where shroud was in a list of keywords, it was broken out to its own line to accommodate the new reminder text.




Arctic Foxes (nonfunctional)

This card had a nonstandard way of stating what couldn't block it.

Old wording:

Creatures with power 2 or greater can't block Arctic Foxes as long as defending player controls a snow land.

New wording:

Arctic Foxes can't be blocked by creatures with power 2 or greater as long as defending player controls a snow land.




Bottle of Suleiman (nonfunctional)

Oddly, this coin flip card had the bad outcome listed first. Because the coin flip is the result of an activated ability, you had to read for quite a while before you were told why you'd ever want to activate it! We switched the outcomes around to the more traditional "lead with the awesome" approach.

Old wording:

{o1}, Sacrifice Bottle of Suleiman: Flip a coin. If you lose the flip, Bottle of Suleiman deals 5 damage to you. If you win the flip, put a 5/5 colorless Djinn artifact creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

New wording:

{o1}, Sacrifice Bottle of Suleiman: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, put a 5/5 colorless Djinn artifact creature token with flying onto the battlefield. If you lose the flip, Bottle of Suleiman deals 5 damage to you.




Fastbond and Naya (nonfunctional)

Now that there is no difference between the one land you play on each of your turns and any additional lands you may be allowed to play, there's no need for the word "additional" on cards that let you play any number of lands.

Old Fastbond wording:

You may play any number of additional lands on each of your turns.

Whenever you play a land, if it wasn't the first land you played this turn, Fastbond deals 1 damage to you.

New Fastbond wording:

You may play any number of lands on each of your turns.

Whenever you play a land, if it wasn't the first land you played this turn, Fastbond deals 1 damage to you.

Old Naya wording:

You may play any number of additional lands on each of your turns.

Whenever you roll {C}, target red, green, or white creature you control gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each land you control.

New Naya wording:

You may play any number of lands on each of your turns.

Whenever you roll {C}, target red, green, or white creature you control gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each land you control.




Scapeshift (nonfunctional)

The rules say when you search your library for a card, you don't have to find it, even if it's there. On cards that let you search for multiple cards, we now include a helpful "up to" to help people who may not know that rule.

Old wording:

Sacrifice any number of lands. Search your library for that many land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.

New wording:

Sacrifice any number of lands. Search your library for up to that many land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.




Skyshroud Blessing (nonfunctional)

When an ability affects all of a particular type or subtype with no qualifier, the standard template is to include "all."

Old wording:

Lands gain shroud until end of turn. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities.)

Draw a card.

New wording:

All lands gain shroud until end of turn. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities.)

Draw a card.




Tainted Strike (nonfunctional)

This card had a minor issue in its reminder text. Poor instant. Thought it was a creature or something.

Old wording:

Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains infect until end of turn. (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)

New wording:

Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains infect until end of turn. (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)




Comprehensive Rulebook Changes

 What are the Comprehensive Rules?  
Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have more than 13,000 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.

118.1a

This rule that tells you a team's starting life total in Two-Headed Giant had a minor typo.

205.3m

Welcome to the list of creature types, Lamia.

207.2c

Constellation and strive take their place in the list of ability words.

603.10 and 607.2g

These rules describe the case where a triggered ability is linked to a static ability in the same paragraph. This type of linked ability is seen on cards like Rowen and Primitive Etchings. Keranos, God of Storms is the first card to have two triggered abilities each linked to a static ability, so the rule was reworded.

712.1

This rule talks about controlling another player during his or her turn. Worst Fears is now the third card to do this, joining Mindslaver and Sorin Markov. I think three cards is the point where we stop listing the individual examples.



 
Matt Tabak
Matt Tabak
@TabakRules
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Matt Tabak is the reigning, defending, and undisputed rules manager for Magic: The Gathering, Kaijudo, and Duel Masters. Matt Tabak is Gruul. Matt Tabak tries to laugh, think, and cry every day. Matt Tabak is hungry. Matt Tabak doesn't want you to sass him. Matt Tabak loves puppies.

 
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