Prerelease is days away, which means that it's time for another round of Oracle fixes and Comp Rules updates. These updates happen only
when a new set is released, so corrections or improvements that have come to our attention over the past few months are being implemented now. In addition, some rules changes are necessary to make the new cards work.
The biggest part of the last update was the Grand Creature Type Update. The biggest part of this update is fine-tuning the last update! That project was so immense that some cards were overlooked and some mistakes were made (sorry, Raveka!), but thanks to all y'all out there in Internetland, we're getting everything in shipshape shape.
Changes to the Oracle card database will go into effect on Friday, January 18.
Changes to the Comprehensive Rules will take effect on February 1, though any changes that are necessary for Morningtide cards to work will be in effect during the Prerelease. Bear in mind, however, that the new version of the Comp Rules has not yet been finalized, so the listed amendments are subject to change. This article will be updated with any changes.
Normal Oracle Changes
What is Oracle?
Magic is a game made up of over 9,000 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.
No, not the band responsible for "The Logical Song." I'm talking about Rhox
, Lone Wolf
, and friends. They were having a nice, happy existence . . . then they met the planeswalkers.
Lone Wolf said "You may have Lone Wolf deal its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked." Let's say your Lone Wolf is attacking a planeswalker. It becomes blocked. You want to use its ability. Lone Wolf now deals its combat damage to the defending player (the controller of the planeswalker) as though it weren't blocked. Well, if Lone Wolf weren't blocked, it wouldn't deal any damage to the defending player! So the consensus among judges is that using its ability results in it dealing no damage.
That's not just counterintuitive, it's sad. These guys were behind the times. But what's the solution? We considered giving these cards errata so they'd deal their combat damage to the defending player. They say "defending player" right on them, so that would make some sense. But we decided to give these cards errata so they'd deal their damage as though they weren't blocked. That makes a lot more sense given the intent of the ability. Now if your Lone Wolf is attacking a planeswalker and gets blocked, you can have it deal its damage to that planeswalker anyway.
The cards that are getting changed as a result of this are Deathcoil Wurm, Gurzigost, Lone Wolf, Outmaneuver, Predatory Focus, Pride of Lions, Rhox, Thorn Elemental, Tornado Elemental, and Wolf Pack.
This card's Oracle wording was functionally identical to its printed wording . . . as long as you assume that all attacking creatures are attacking you. Now that planeswalkers exist, that's a bad assumption. (It's also functionally different in multiplayer free-for-all games.) This'll go back to its printed functionality.
Its printed wording targeted both an opponent and a bunch of cards in your graveyard. Its Oracle wording doesn't target an opponent. This made it better in multiplayer . . . but worse in terms of knowing whether it targets your opponent. The card will once again target an opponent (and get a smoother template based on Æther Burst).
This card broke with the introduction of tribal as a card type. For example, if you targeted a tribal enchantment with it, the first card you reveal from the top of your library that shared a type with that permanent could be a tribal instant. And putting a tribal instant into play doesn't work so well. Reweave will now specify that you're looking for a permanent card.
We have two wordings for the "can't be countered" ability. Permanent cards, like Scragnoth, say "Scragnoth can't be countered." Cards with targets, like Urza's Rage, say "Urza's Rage can't be countered by spells or abilities." Why? Because Urza's Rage can still be countered by the game rules if its target becomes illegal. Root Sliver's ability used to fall into the first category since all Slivers were creatures. But now that Nameless Inversion and Crib Swap are Sliver spells that have targets, it falls into the second category and is getting the appropriate wording.
Eladamri, Lord of Leaves
Eladamri was never supposed to boost himself with his own abilities. When he became an Elf in the last update, however, he suddenly started affecting himself. This was an unintended functional change, and it's been corrected—he now affects "other" Elves.
Purity says "If a spell or ability would deal damage to you..." But abilities don't deal damage—their sources do. Oops. It'll now say "If noncombat damage would be dealt to you..."
Shambling Swarm puts -1/-1 counters on creatures, then it removes "those counters" at end of turn. But counters with the same name are indistinguishable from one another! This wasn't much of a problem until we implemented the rule that says that +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters annihilate each other. Say you put all three Shambling Swarm counters on a creature you don't control that already has a -1/-1 counter on it. Then you put a +1/+1 counter on that creature. With Shambling Swarm's current wording, it matters whether the new counter annihilates a -1/-1 counter that was placed by it, or whether it annihilates the other counter. That distinction is impossible under current rules, and it's really annoying to try to keep track of. So the Swarm got a new wording that'll remove the appropriate number of -1/-1 counters from the appropriate creatures without tracking the specific counters it added.
As printed, it had a triggered ability. (Lots of Tempest triggered abilities started with "if.") Somewhere along the way, this became a replacement ability. It's getting changed back.
This was also printed as a triggered ability but had somehow become a replacement ability in Oracle. It's going back to a triggered ability.
As printed, Cold Storage let you return only creature cards you removed from the game with it. Somehow this word was lost in Oracle, and Cold Storage had been returning all cards removed from the game with it. The printed functionality is being restored. Sorry, Treetop Village!
As printed, its last ability triggered when you lost control of Duplicity. But its current wording triggers when Duplicity leaves play. As usual, the printed functionality is being restored. Duplicity also says that you "exchange" the cards in your hand for the cards removed from the game with it—but nothing in the definition of "exchange" implies that the cards you remove from your hand get turned face down! So we're cleaning that up too.
As printed, the creature's owner gained the life (just like Path of Peace). But according to its Oracle wording, the creature's controller gains the life. That's getting fixed.
As printed, its second ability was a static ability. It had changed to a triggered ability, which made it work differently if Watchdog left play during combat, for example. It's being changed back.
This card was printed with the ability "First strike when attacking," which is weird phrasing. Due to the rule that an ability that uses the words "when," "whenever," or "at" is a triggered ability, this had been reworded into a more standard triggered ability. But we believe that this ability is meant to be read as English, with "when" equivalent to "while." As such, we're converting this back into a static ability.
Based on its printed wording, this spell should check the whether its two targets share a card type both when it's played and when it resolves. Its Oracle wording lets you target any two permanents and checks only on resolution. We're putting the targeting restriction back.
Back in the day, lots of cards used the terminology "successfully cast." Nowadays, those cards simply use the term "play" or "played." But not this one. Instead, it interprets "successfully cast" as "resolved," and has one of the most bizarre replacement abilities in the game today. It's getting simplified (and falling in line with everything else), and as a result, it'll remove the spell it's targeting from the game immediately. Its last ability is also getting cleaned up, though it isn't functionally changing.
The The Dark Goblin Shrine said "basic mountain." The Chronicles Goblin Shrine just said "mountain." Since it's our general policy to agree with the most recently printed card, we're updating the Oracle wording to match the Chronicles functionality.
Corpse Dance & Echo Chamber
These cards each put creatures into play. They granted them haste until end of turn. Then they removed those creatures from the game at end of turn. Since those creatures wouldn't be sticking around, the Oracle wordings took a shortcut and deleted the "until end of turn" duration from haste. Although it only matters in extreme corner cases (if ever), the cards should work as printed. So the durations are being restored.
Other template updates
The following cards got minor template updates that didn't involve functional changes: Alaborn Zealot, all the Licids except Transmogrifying Licid, Ancient Craving, Arcades Sabboth, Barrin's Unmaking, Burning of Xinye, Choking Sands, Chromium, Cinder Marsh, Combat Medic, Contamination, Conversion, Corrupt Court Official, Cyclone, Elder Spawn, Empyrial Armor, Essence Vortex, False Orders, Feast of Worms, Forethought Amulet, Gamekeeper, Helldozer, Helm of Possession, Highway Robber, Hired Giant, Icequake, Illicit Auction, Infernal Denizen, Interdict, Kindle, Knight of Stromgald, Lady Sun, Lovisa Coldeyes, Mages' Contest, Mogg Hollows, Molten Rain, Myr Matrix, Nebuchadnezzar, Oracle en-Vec, Order of Leitbur, Order of the Ebon Hand, Pain's Reward, Planeswalker's Mischief, Primal Clay, Reviving Vapors, Rockslide Ambush, Rootwater Depths, Sacred Guide, Scroll Rack, Serene Offering, Soltari Monk, Steam Frigate, Temporal Aperture, Territorial Dispute, Thalakos Lowlands, Theft of Dreams, Thermokarst, Topple, Torrent of Stone, Tsabo's Assassin, Unstable Shapeshifter, Vec Townships, Volcanic Eruption, Wind Spirit, and Wood Sage.
The Grand Creature Type Update Update
In advance of the Lorwyn release, we updated nearly 1200 cards to modern-day creature type standards. That's a lot, and we had no illusions that we'd done it perfectly. Instead, we asked you to post any mistakes, omissions, or other comments on the message boards. And you did! We truly appreciate the effort (and the attention to detail) from everyone who posted their opinions. Thank you! We thoroughly combed through all 18 pages of posts, and considered all suggestions that were made. As a result, we updated 90 cards. Which ones? I'm glad you asked...
Comprehensive Rules Changes
What are the Comprehensive Rules?
Magic is complicated. No, really. When you have over 9,000 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, Mindslaver!) 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 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), now with an appendix on planeswalker rules. It doesn't have sections about phasing or subgames... but you'll never miss them.
If you play Show and Tell
, each player may choose a card in his or her hand, then all the chosen cards are put into play at the same time. Do you have to show each other player the card you choose as you choose it, or is it enough to say "I pick this one" while pointing to the back of a card in your hand? The rules were unclear; they're being changed to make it evident that the latter method is okay.
This rule said that if an Aura is coming into play by any means other than being played, and the effect that's putting it into play doesn't specify what it will be attached to, the player who's putting it into play gets to decide. This is counterintuitive with Oblivion Ring, for example. If my Oblivion Ring removes your Aura from the game, and then my Oblivion Ring leaves play, your Aura would return to play under your control—but I would decide what it's attached to! The rule is changing so the player who will control the Aura when it enters play gets to decide what it's attached to.
This rule is being slightly reworded to make it look less like a replacement effect. It's not a replacement; it's a thing you always do because it's always true.
The first exception listed in this rule doesn't apply to static abilities, and the rule will spell that out.
If you read this rule literally, the game's first upkeep step would never end. It's being modified to reflect reality.
This rule is being reworded so that it's clearer what Master Warcraft does when the active player has the option to attack a planeswalker. (First, the person who played Master Warcraft chooses the complete group of creatures that are going to attack. Then, for each of those creatures, the active player chooses who or what it's going to attack.)
This rule is getting changed to match the new 308.2a.
Last known information is used to determine all relevant information about an object that's left play, not just its characteristics. Because these rules said "its last known information is used to determine its characteristics," that implied that no other information could be determined this way. The last part of the sentence has been deleted to broaden the rule.
This rule is being reworded for clarity and specificity.
This ability stated that "drawing a card is never considered an impossible action." And then a certain Morningtide card came along... The intent here is that if your library is empty, you can still make the choice to draw a card, even though it's seemingly impossible. (This is an exception to normal "what's impossible" scenarios; for example, sacrificing a creature is impossible if you have no creatures in play.) Other things can (and will) make drawing a card impossible, however, and this rule isn't meant to preclude them. Also, the incomprehensible parenthetical example in this rule is being changed.
This rule discusses what happens if an "as long as" duration ends before the effect that cares about it even starts. However, it was overly specific about the window of time, and there were still cases in which an "as long as" duration could end before the stated window began. So the rule's being broadened.
The word "prevention" was used twice where the word "effect" would be more correct.
This rule has been clarified to remove potential ambiguity concerning when copies cease to exist.
The definition of "cost" is being broadened.
The rule for prowl is being added.
The rule for reinforce is being added.
"Mode" is being changed to "modes" due to the Lorwyn Commands.
This rule has been changed to match the new 420.5j.
This rule governs what happens if you want to name a split card for a "name a card" effect. It's being expanded to specify that an object with either of those names (such as a spell on the stack that's half of the named split card) is considered a match for that name.
The second instance of "permanent" should be "card." Also, this rule and 508.3 are getting some editing to make them easier to read. (The jarring phrase "flip permanent" is getting the boot.)
This rule is being added to specify that you can name a "flipped" name (such as Nighteyes the Desecrator) if an effect asks you to name a card.
Creature type list
Anemone and Gremlin are out. Hyena is back in.