July 2010 Update Bulletin

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Comprehensive Rules Changes

 What are the Comprehensive Rules?  

Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have over 11,000 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, Time Stop!) 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 (2MB PDF). It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames ... but you'll never miss them.

Table of Contents
I currently have the "Emblem" section as rule 113, inserting it after "Abilities" (at the tail end of the list of things that qualify as objects) and before "Targets." The rest of the 100's all get bumped down and renumbered accordingly.

104.4b (revised) & 104.4f (new)
These are rules in the "how the game ends in a draw" section. This section currently says that if there's an unbreakable loop of mandatory actions, the game ends in a draw. That's fine in a game where everyone can affect everything, but in a Grand Melee game, for instance, that's not fair at all. Now the aforementioned rule will be true only in a two-player game or a multiplayer game with no range of influence. In a multiplayer game using range of influence, only the people able to touch the loop draw the game. (They leave the game having neither won nor lost it.) The people halfway across the table get to keep playing. The old rules 104.4f & g are getting renumbered to 104.4g & h.

This is the rules support being added to handle Drain Power's wacky mana-moving functionality. See the Functional Oracle Changes section for more details.

Four cards let you pay half your life total, an action that isn't well defined if your life total is negative. After moving some words in this rule around, I think it will be clear that you can perform the "what's half my life total?" calculation on a negative number to yield a negative number, which you then won't be able to pay as a cost.

Emblem is being added to the list of objects.

This rule refers to an object's would-be controller (if a player is attempting to cast or activate it). It's missing "play," which is necessary if that object is a land, so that's being added in.

This is a new rule that states that if a spell or ability would create a token, but an effect states that a permanent with one or more of that token's characteristics can't enter the battlefield, the token is not created. (As mentioned in the Worms of the Earth notes in the Functional Oracle Changes section.) The old 110.5d-f are each getting bumped down a letter.

112.3b, 602.1, Glossary entry of "Activated Ability"
These rules described activated abilities as taking the form "[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation restriction (if any).]" That last bit wasn't accurate, and is now being called [Activation instructions (if any)]. This covers restrictions ("Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery"), but also who gets to activate it ("Any player may activate this ability"), which clearly isn't a restriction, and stipulations about the activation cost ("X is the number of cards in an opponent's hand.")

In addition, the old 602.1 was broken in half. Part of it became 602.1a, and a new 602.1b was created to cover these activation instructions. The old 602.1a & b were bumped down to c &d.

Emblems were added to the list of objects whose abilities function in the command zone.

This section was added to cover emblems. The old 113 through the old 120 are the new 114 through the new 121.

This is a new rule in the "Life" section. It states that "Whenever [a player] gains life, ..." abilities are treated as though they are written, "Whenever a source causes [a player] to gain life, ...", with an Ajani's Pridemate example to boot.

Rule 120.3 in the "Drawing a Card" section states that you can choose to draw a card even if your library is empty (hey, maybe you've got a replacement effect like the one from Words of War), but not if an effect says you can't draw (like mean ol' Maralen of the Mornsong). This new subrule extends that to the case when the player with the option and the player who would draw the card are different—a case Dire Undercurrents knows quite well.

This rule is about the use of card names in abilities—specifically, that if an ability of an object refers to that object by name, and another object winds up with that ability, the new object's ability will refer to the new object accordingly. It's a Quicksilver Elemental rule. What this rule didn't cover, though, was the case in which an object with such an ability changed its name and gave that ability to its new-named self! Think Dimir Doppelganger copying a Runeclaw Bear.

Egg has been beaten off the creature type list. It's been whisked away. It was clearly broken. (I know, I'm cracked.)

This rule was written a bit too wishy-washy, what with its "implies" and "treated as." It'll have the same content, just more forceful and definitive. Like me, after I listen to my Arnold Schwarzenegger "Be You But Better" series of motivational tapes.

Previously, the command zone was used only in casual variants like Archenemy and EDH. Now that emblems are using it like a real zone, some of the descriptions of this zone have to change.

There's been a huge debate raging on the message boards regarding Desertion and kicker. If you cast a creature with kicker, and I cast Desertion to counter it and put that creature on the battlefield, does the creature enter the battlefield kicked? The answer is no. This rule seems to imply that maybe the answer is yes, but that reading will be shut down. Abilities of a permanent that care about choices made when it was cast get those answers only if the permanent is a result of that spell resolving.

This is the command zone section. The description of the zone is changing, and it's getting a subrule about emblems.

This rule needs to state that the archenemy sets a scheme in motion only during his or her precombat main phase. That detail was inadvertently left out of this rule. (It was stated elsewhere, like in 703.4d.)

This rule had a typo in its number.

The rule will state that permanents that phase out are removed from combat.

These are the revised deathtouch rules.

There was a weird little loophole in the cumulative upkeep rules. Say you control a permanent with cumulative upkeep. At the beginning of your upkeep, the ability triggers. It somehow leaves the battlefield in response. Now the cumulative upkeep ability resolves. You can't add an age counter to the permanent, of course ... but if you want, you can still pay the upkeep cost based on the last known information regarding how many age counters are on it. That seems silly, right? Who would want to pay a cost for a permanent you no longer have? Well, you would, if that "cost" was giving you free stuff like Herald of Leshrac or Braid of Fire did. That's certainly unintended and unintuitive, though, so the rule's being changed. You can pay the cost only if the permanent is still on the battlefield.

The ninjutsu rules stated that you had to return an "unblocked creature" you control to its owner's hand. Just to be helpful, it will now say "unblocked attacking creature."

Finally! This has got to be important! This is ... the epic rule! Oh, wait, it's just the rule about epic. It's getting a minor description change regarding the delayed triggered ability part.

This is the deathtouch tweak mentioned on the front page. This state-based action will kick in only if the creature dealt damage by a source with deathtouch has toughness greater than 0.

This rule, egregiously left out of the Archenemy rules update, states that if you begin a subgame of an Archenemy game, the archenemy brings his or her scheme deck along (but not the ongoing schemes that are currently face up in the main game). Phew! You can dig out your Shahrazads now!

A minor tweak to go along with the draw rules mentioned above.

This rule, about illegal actions, already stated that actions that moved cards into a library, or moved from a library to a zone other than the stack, can't be reversed. It will now say that actions that cause a library to be shuffled can't be reversed either.

Various 807.4 subrules
One of the massive headaches intriguing pickles that's come up over the past couple of months is what happens in a Grand Melee game if one person has a Darksteel Reactor with 20 charge counters on it. Unlike many similar "you win" cards, which trigger and resolve at the beginning of your upkeep, Darksteel Reactor has a state trigger that pops whenever you have 20 counters on it. So it'll trigger and resolve and you win! However, in a multiplayer game using the limited range of influence option, "you win" actually means "your neighbors lose." So in that scenario, Darksteel Reactor triggers and resolves and eliminates a couple of players ... then triggers and resolves again ... and again ... and again ... (it still has 20 charge counters on it!) ... and again ...

This shouldn't be an auto-win in a 120-person game, though, especially since the vast majority of the players it would mow down wouldn't even get the chance to try to deal with it. They enter the range of influence ... and get Reacted right out of the game. Ugh. The revisions and new rules in this section are my attempt to stymie that, basically by not allowing new players to enter the range of influence until the next turn begins. Then, since the Reactor player's turn can't end (he or she is in a one-player loop), his or her game ends in a draw and everyone else keeps playing. There are ramifications to this, of course. I can't attack the player to my left, eliminate that player, then cast Relentless Assault and immediately go after the new player to my left. But I think the slow-it-down philosophy is necessary to prevent the really game-breaking shenanigans.

Since this section of the rulebook doesn't get a lot of scrutiny, and I made the mistake of looking straight at it, I also found myself compelled to add details, cover some cases regarding turn marker passing that weren't mentioned, correct a contradiction between adjacent rules that I can't believe I hadn't noticed before, and so on.

Glossary: Emblem

Glossary: Command

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