July 2010 Update Bulletin

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Functional Oracle Changes

 What is Oracle?  

Magic is a game made up of over 11,000 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.

Artifact Ward
The Oracle wording grants the enchanted creature protection from artifacts. The printed wording doesn't, however. It's very close, but it shouldn't make Equipment that is already on that creature fall off. Like Argothian Pixies, this card is just going to list what it does.

New wording
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't be blocked by artifact creatures.
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to enchanted creature by artifact sources.
Enchanted creature can't be the target of abilities from artifact sources.

Blaze of Glory
As printed, Blaze of Glory says "target defending creature" and "Play before defense is chosen." The two things are mutually exclusive, but it does indicate that this should get a play restriction. The latter implies that this should say "Cast Blaze of Glory only before blockers are declared." The two together imply that this should say "Cast Blaze of Glory only during the declare attackers step," and that it should target a creature defending player controls. Also, the "must" in the Oracle wording is a nonstandard template.

New wording
Cast Blaze of Glory only during the declare attackers step.
Target creature defending player controls can block any number of creatures this turn. It blocks each attacking creature this turn if able.

Drain Power
All the printed wordings are very clear that all the mana that was in the targeted player's mana pool winds up in your mana pool. Not the same amount and type of mana—the actual, original mana. This could matter if some of that mana was generated by a snow permanent, or came from Boseiju, Who Shelters All, or you're trying to cast an Imperiosaur, for example. We're going to restore that aspect of the Fifth Edition wording and add rules support to cover it.

New wording
Target player activates a mana ability of each land he or she controls. Then put all mana from that player's mana pool into yours.

Dread Wight
The Oracle wording grants two abilities to the affected creatures. Preferably, it'd grant zero abilities to those creatures, since the printed wording didn't. Removing the first one is feasible. Removing the second one isn't worth the lengths we'd have to go to do it. But I'm happy making some progress. While we're here, changing the "all" in the first sentence to "each" makes that sentence more grammatically correct and easier to understand. (You're not putting a single counter on all of those creatures! They each get one!)

New wording
At end of combat, put a paralyzation counter on each creature blocking or blocked by Dread Wight and tap those creatures. Each of those creatures doesn't untap during its controller's untap step for as long as it has a paralyzation counter on it. Each of those creatures gains "{o4}: Remove a paralyzation counter from this creature."

Glyph of Reincarnation
First, the restriction on when you can cast this card has changed; the Oracle restriction doesn't match the printed one. We're restoring the printed functionality.

Second, there's been a functional change with how this card interacts with control-change scenarios. For example, let's say Matt Tabak attacks me with Runeclaw Bear. I block it with Wall of Omens, then I gain control of the Bear somehow. After combat, I cast Glyph of Reincarnation targeting the Wall of Omens. Based on the printed wording, the Bear is destroyed and Tabak gets a creature card (of my choice) from his graveyard. Based on the Oracle wording, however, the Bear is destroyed and I get a creature from my own graveyard. Such injustices shall not stand! Not, at least, while I can construct convoluted and contrived sentences to restore the card's original functionality (assuming, that is, a human being can parse the wording).

Just don't play Glyph of Reincarnation and everything's fine. You weren't playing it, were you? No, I didn't think so. Keep not doing that.

New wording
Cast Glyph of Reincarnation only after combat.
Destroy all creatures that were blocked by target Wall this turn. They can't be regenerated. For each creature put into a graveyard this way, put a creature card from the graveyard of the player who controlled that creature the last time it became blocked by that Wall onto the battlefield under its owner's control.

Goblin Shrine
Goblin Caves and Goblin Shrine were a pair of cards printed in The Dark. Each one enchants a land and, as originally printed, had an effect if the land it's enchanting is a basic Mountain. Goblin Shrine—but not Goblin Caves—was reprinted in Chronicles. The Chronicles version dropped the word "basic," which incurred a functional change and caused these two cards to work differently. We've decided to synch them up again, reinstating "basic" on Goblin Shrine to restore its original functionality. This overturns a decision we made during the Morningtide Oracle update, when we felt the "last printed wording wins" policy trumped the "matched pair" protocol. Sorry for being indecisive ... nah, no I'm not. Well, I guess I am. Maybe.

New wording
Enchant land
If enchanted land is a basic Mountain, Goblin creatures get +1/+0.
When Goblin Shrine leaves the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to each Goblin creature.

Instill Energy
The Alpha / Beta / Unlimited, Revised, and Fourth Edition versions of Instill Energy all said that the enchanted creature can attack the turn it enters the battlefield. In Fifth Edition, this somehow got transmuted into ignoring summoning sickness altogether, which is reflected in the current Oracle wording (which simply grants the enchanted creature haste). One of our strongest policies when it comes to determining Oracle wordings is to follow the last printed wording ... but that gets a lot looser when it comes to Fifth Edition. That set went a little loopy with the card revisions. In this case, we're going to invoke that Fifth Edition loophole and adhere to the other three versions, all of which are entirely consistent on this matter.

New wording
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can attack as though it had haste.
{o0}: Untap enchanted creature. Activate this ability only during your turn and only once each turn.

Kormus Bell
This card underwent an odd bit of evolution. On the Alpha / Beta / Unlimited version, Kormus Bell adamantly states that Swamps have no color and (since that's not clear enough, apparently) that they are not black. On the Revised version, no mention of color is made at all. The Swamps are still colorless (they're colorless by default), but Kormus Bell keeps its mouth shut about it. On the Fourth Edition version, Kormus Bell pulls a total reversal and turns the Swamps black!

The color-changing effect doesn't exist in Oracle. Our general policy, though, is to adhere to the last printed version of a card. Other considerations can trump that policy (as seen elsewhere in this bulletin), but since there are no such compelling circumstances with this card, Kormus Bell is getting its color-changing effect restored.

New wording
All Swamps are 1/1 black creatures that are still lands.

Miraculous Recovery
The current Oracle wording doesn't quite match the timing stated by the printed wording, which has two actions in sequence: first you put the creature card onto the battlefield, then you put a +1/+1 counter on it. This will be restored. Returning a 0/0 creature card to the battlefield this way (such as a Clone onto an empty board) still works, since state-based actions aren't checked until after Miraculous Recovery fully resolves. In fact, the functionality differences here are minimal, but they do exist. For example, returning an Eager Cadet to the battlefield with Miraculous Recovery should cause Sword of the Meek's ability to trigger. It wouldn't under the old Oracle wording, but it will now.

New wording
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Rukh Egg & Summoner's Egg
As you may have seen already, the M11 card Roc Egg has the creature type Bird, not Egg. Yes, the storied and illustrious creature type that is "Egg" has been decommissioned, and all the cards that were printed with it—wait, there's only one? And it's Rukh Egg? Which should obviously be the same creature type as Roc Egg? Oh, OK.

Egg was always a pretty silly creature type. Rukh Egg and Roc Egg are, essentially, very (very) young Birds, so they'll both have that creature type. Summoner's Egg was granted the creature type Egg during the Creature Type Update, but it was never printed like that. It'll now be a Construct.

Scarwood Bandits
As printed, Scarwood Bandits's ability targeted any artifact, and an opponent could counteract the effect by paying {2}. In Oracle, this changed. The ability could still target any artifact, but only that artifact's controller could counteract the effect by paying {2}. In most cases, this winds being the same—you're (probably) playing a two-player game, and you're (probably) trying to steal your opponent's artifact. But this plays differently in a multiplayer game, since Player B might not want you to take Player A's artifact. And it plays differently if you try to steal your own artifact. (For example, you cast Act of Treason to temporarily grab one of your opponent's artifact creatures, then you try to use the Bandits to give yourself control of that artifact permanently. It's a reasonable play, since only you could pay the {2} to negate the Bandits's ability, but that's not what the printed card says.) This one's changing back to match what it originally said.

New wording
{o2oG}, {oT}: Unless an opponent pays {o2}, gain control of target artifact for as long as Scarwood Bandits remains on the battlefield.

Splintering Wind
As printed, it appears that the leaves-the-battlefield ability was a delayed triggered ability that was part of the original token-making effect. So, for example, if you made a Splinter token, then Splintering Wind left the battlefield, then that token left the battlefield, the token would still deal 1 damage to you and each creature you control. And no other Splintering Winds on the battlefield would care.

The Oracle wording has the leaves-the-battlefield ability as a separate triggered ability. In the example above, the Splinter token would leave the battlefield without a peep, since Splintering Wind wouldn't be around to have its ability trigger. Worse, if there were three Splintering Winds on the battlefield when a Splinter left, the abilities of all three would trigger. This ability would even trigger if a Mirror Entity (or any other creature with all creature types) left the battlefield. That certainly doesn't seem right.

New wording
{o2oG}: Splintering Wind deals 1 damage to target creature. Put a 1/1 green Splinter creature token onto the battlefield. It has flying and "Cumulative upkeep {oG}." When it leaves the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to you and each creature you control. (At the beginning of its controller's upkeep, that player puts an age counter on it, then sacrifices it unless he or she pays its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)

Triassic Egg
The Chronicles wording of Triassic Egg did a wacky thing: It targeted a creature card in your hand or your graveyard. This is impossible; the cards in your hand are hidden, so none of them can be targeted. The Oracle wording abandoned the targeting concept altogether and just let you pick a creature card from your hand or your graveyard as the ability resolved.

We can get much closer to the last printed wording, though. The point of targeting a card is so all the players in the game know what the ability is going to do before it resolves, and they can react accordingly. At the time you activate the Chronicles-worded ability, you clearly have to pick a card in your hand or a card in your graveyard to target. So the hand/graveyard delineation is made, and known, at that point. We can mimic that with a modal ability. Although the ability can't actually target a card in your hand, it can certainly target a card in your graveyard, especially since that's now a separate mode.

The Chronicles wording also used the hatchling counters as an activation restriction on the second ability, but never actually removed them. The Oracle wording removes the counters as a handy shortcut. (If you have to remove two counters, there must be two counters on it. Check. Putting this requirement into the cost is easier to find than burying it as an activation restriction at the end of the ability. And Triassic Egg is heading to the graveyard anyway, so who cares whether you keep the counters on it.?) Well, something might actually care! If we don't have to change the activation restriction into a cost—and we don't—then we shouldn't.

New wording
{o3}, {oT}: Put a hatchling counter on Triassic Egg.
Sacrifice Triassic Egg: Choose one — You may put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield; or return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability only if two or more hatchling counters are on Triassic Egg.

Vernal Equinox
The printed card allowed you to flash-ily play creature and enchantment spells. This means that you shouldn't be able to pop out Dryad Arbor this way. The way the Oracle wording is currently construed, though, you can do just that. If we change "play" to "cast," however, that loophole closes.

New wording
Any player may cast creature and enchantment cards as though they had flash.

Wild Mammoth
This has the same ambiguity problem that we fixed on Wild Dogs and Ghazbán Ogre in a recent update. Say one player controls more creatures than any other when the ability triggers, and a different player controls more creatures than any other when the ability resolves. Who is "that player"? The identity of the lucky, lucky winner of a Wild Mammoth now be clarified.

New wording
At the beginning of your upkeep, if a player controls more creatures than each other player, the player who controls the most creatures gains control of Wild Mammoth.

Worms of the Earth
I poked at this card during the Eventide update, getting it a little closer to its printed functionality. I've returned to it with the same purpose. Its second ability is worded as a replacement: "If a land would enter the battlefield, instead it doesn't." I think we can be more forceful, and just state outright that lands can't enter the battlefield.

There are some questions and ramifications related to this.

* If that's what the second ability says, does the seemingly redundant first ability ("Players can't play lands") need to be there at all?

I think so. Otherwise, I could announce that I'm playing a land, have the card fail to move from my hand to the battlefield, and never even get revealed. And yet I've used up my land drop. That can't be good.

* What happens if you cast a Clone and choose to have it copy Dryad Arbor?

Clone resolves, but can't enter the battlefield because it's a land.

* Does it get stuck on the stack?

It turns out we already have a rule in place to cover that case, because it can happen if Copy Enchantment resolves and tries to copy an Aura that can't enter the battlefield for some reason. (Perhaps the Aura is Tattoo Ward and there's only one creature on the battlefield ... and it's already enchanted with Tattoo Ward.) Rule 608.3b says that if a permanent spell resolves but its controller can't put it onto the battlefield, that player puts it into its owner's graveyard. I think the current wording of Worms of the Earth works no differently than the new wording in this respect, but I like this story.

* What happens if you put Clone directly onto the battlefield from some other zone and choose to have it copy Dryad Arbor?

It never actually makes it onto the battlefield and just remains in whatever zone it was coming from.

* What happens if a spell or ability (such as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker's) tries to put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a land?

It fails; no token is created. A rule is being added to clearly state that.

The other change is that the third ability should deal damage, not be a life payment.

New wording
Players can't play lands.
Lands can't enter the battlefield.
At the beginning of each upkeep, any player may sacrifice two lands or have Worms of the Earth deal 5 damage to him or her. If a player does either, destroy Worms of the Earth.

UPDATE: As originally posted, this article incorrectly described the result of Glyph of Reincarnation's printed wording. The new Oracle wording is correct; only the explanation was wrong. It has now been corrected. Because we know you were worried.

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