Characteristics of exiled face-down cards

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This issue came up with regard to a rules question. The question was "Can Runic Repition target a face-down exiled card with Flashback?"

The gatherer entry for Runic Repition has a ruling "A card that's exiled face down doesn't have any characteristics or abilities, so it can't be the target of Runic Repetition."

However, this statement is not currently supported by the Comp Rules.

Rule 707.2 states "707.2. Face-down spells and face-down permanents have no characteristics other than those listed by the ability or rules that allowed the spell or permanent to be face down. Any listed characteristics are the copiable values of that object's characteristics."
But 707.2 only applies to Face-down spells and permanents, and a Face-down exiled card is neither of those.

Rule 707.5 states "707.5. At any time, you may look at a face-down spell you control on the stack or a face-down permanent you control (even if it's phased out). You can't look at face-down cards in any other zone or face-down spells or permanents controlled by another player."
But that rule only says you may not look at the card, not that the card has no characteristics or abilities.

Rule 406.3 governs face-down exiled cards and says "406.3. Exiled cards are, by default, kept face up and may be examined by any player at any time. Cards "exiled face down" can't be examined by any player except when instructions allow it."
But again, while this says that a player can't examine it, it does not say that the card has no abilities or characteristics.

While the Praetor's Grasp situation is a bit hairier because the person targetting the exiled face-down card can't verify that the spell is a legal target (short of Mindslaver effects), the problem becomes more clear if you consider Hideaway lands.

Let's say I play a Hideaway land, and choose to exile a spell with flashback face-down for the Hideaway ability. Hideaway allows me to look at that card while it's face-down and exiled. I then want to play Runic Repitition targeting it. What in the comprehensive rules stops me from doing so? I'm fairly certain that nothing in the Comp Rules stops me from playing Runic Repetition on a face-down exiled card that I can verify has Flashback.

Basically, I think the Comp Rules needs an entry that says face-down exiled cards have no characteristics or abilities. Otherwise, I'd need a good explanation why I can't cast Runic Repitition targetting a face-down exiled card with Flashback (especially if I'm allowed to look at the card).


Looking forward to responses!





And on a related note, let's say I play Praetor's Grasp and choose a card that has Flash.
If cards exiled face-down have no characteristics or abilities, I don't think I can play that card using the Flash ability, because the Comp Rules say:
702.8a Flash is a static ability that functions in any zone from which you could play the card it's on. "Flash" means "You may play this card any time you could cast an instant."



So in the case of Praetor's Grasp (or Colfenor's Plans even), the exiled face-down card has no abilities, so does not have Flash while in Exile. The card would need to have Flash while in the Exile zone in order for me to use it, as that is "the zone from which you could play the card".

So, I would argue that if it's true that exiled face-down cards have no abilities or characteristics, then you cannot use the Flash ability to play cards exiled face-down.
Agreed. I think maybe the rules could be generalized even more to say that face down cards in any zone lack abilities. Then again... that wouldn't work for Plagacial wurm.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Maybe, even though it isn't quite there, any cards that are hidden from a player have no abilities for that player. Kind of convaluted, but I think it keeps functionanlity of Wurn (it isn't hidden from you while you are searching) without changing the library from being a hidden zone.

Might not work quite the way intended, but maybe a few more minor changes (such as defining hidden, seperating it from a hidden zone). 
56965458 wrote:
As long as it's random, I really can't see where's the problem. Anyway, there's already a few standard ways for doing this. We listed them in this thread. If someone does the bogey-bogey, eats the cards, waits until they come out, look out the approximate order, place replacements in the same order, calls the president to ask him to give him a string of numbers, puts the card in the given order, then pick the cards in the order given by taking the date of birth of his opponent, reversed, and taking only every other number, then a judge can clearly declare that he's random enough.
56874518 wrote:
The beauty of sarcasm is that when the person using it is totally incorrect, you can just remove the sarcasm and end up with a post that is actually correct.
Maybe, even though it isn't quite there, any cards that are hidden from a player have no abilities for that player. Kind of convaluted, but I think it keeps functionanlity of Wurn (it isn't hidden from you while you are searching) without changing the library from being a hidden zone.

Might not work quite the way intended, but maybe a few more minor changes (such as defining hidden, seperating it from a hidden zone). 



That doesn't work for the Runic Repetition + Hideaway issue. Hideaway exiles the card face-down but allows the player to look at the card.

There's two separate issues here, and they're completely at odds with each other.
The first issue is whether a card with Flash exiled face-down with Praetor's Grasp can be played using the Flash ability.
The other issue is whether Runic Repetition can target a face-down exiled card with Flashback.

If face-down exiled cards have no abilities, then you can't use the Flash ability for cards exiled by Praetor's Grasp or Colfenor's Plans.
If face-down exiled cards DO have abilities, then you should be able to use Runic Repetition targetting a face-down card you know to have Flashback.

EDIT: If the gatherer ruling on Runic Repetition is to be followed, then there's no question that cards exiled face-down CANNOT be played using the Flash ability. I can't find an official ruling, but I'm pretty sure it's commonly believed that you CAN play an exiled face-down card with Flash through Praetor's Grasp or Colfenor's Plans (I'm sure someone played some Flashed faeries with Colfenor's Plans during Lorwyn block...)

I suspect that they'll rule that the flash ability is verifiable on the resulting object on the stack similar to how Morph works at present to turn cards faceup on the field.

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I suspect that they'll rule that the flash ability is verifiable on the resulting object on the stack similar to how Morph works at present to turn cards faceup on the field.



That works, though it would mean that the Gatherer ruling on Runic Repetition is incorrect. The gatherer ruling says that face-down exiled cards have no characteristics or abilities. This cannot be true, if it was then face-down exiled cards could not be played using the Flash ability (the same way you could not play a Flash creature from the Graveyard if you controlled Yixlid Jailer and Karador, Ghost Chieftan).

The more concerning issue for me is regarding Runic Repetition targetting a face-down exiled card with Flashback. For argument's sake, lets say that I played a Hideaway land and exiled a card with Flashback. At some point, both me and my opponent controlled the Hideaway land and so we both were able to look at the face-down exiled card and KNOW that it has Flashback. Why can't I play Runic Repetition targetting that card? That question seems to not have an adequate answer with the current rules.
Just for your Information:

There is a discussion about this very topic on MTG-Salvation (here). They have contacted Matt Tabak here and here. There is a good summary of these [O]fficial rulings here.

The Summary
1) The gatherer "ruling" found on Runic Repetition where it states that face-down exiled cards have no characteristics or abilities is NOT quite accurate. Face-down exiled cards DO have characteristics and abilities, they just are not public knowledge.

2) Runic Repetition cannot target a face-down exiled card with Flashback because the targetting restriction cannot be verified by all players, NOT because the card doesn't have flashback, right?

3) You can cast a creature card exiled face-down with Praetor's Grasp or Colfenor's Plans because the card DOES have Flash while exiled face-down, and that becomes verified upon putting the spell on the stack, correct?
[c]Forest[/c] gives you Forest
Rule 707 is completely irrelevant to this issue.

By definition, Runic Repetiion can only target a card. The rules say that when the text of an ability uses the word "card" it means a game object not on the battlefield or the stack.
108.2a In the text of spells or abilities, the term “card” is used only to refer to a card that’s not on the battlefield or on the stack, such as a creature card in a player’s hand. For more information, see section 4, “Zones.”



By contrast, rule 707 explicitly refers only to game objects on the battlefield or the stack.
707.1. Two cards (Illusionary Mask and Ixidron) and the morph ability (see rule 702.35) allow spells and permanents to be face down.



Consequently, any discussion on what characteristics face-down cards have must ignore 707, except possibly as a source of comparators. (The exception is that a card that is about to be cast as a face-down spell is deemed to be turned face-down in the zone it is cast from - possibly as part of the action of announcing the spell.)

This problem is nearly ten years old, and goes back to the days of the Wishes, which do in fact yield some precedent.

Back when Wishes could retrieve cards in the so-called Removed from Game zone, if the Wish could retrieve only cards with a speciied characteristic, the card had to be face-up in order for it to be retrieved. There was in fact a ruling that a Glittering Wish could not retrieve a face-down card in the RFG zone even if two Painter's Servants were on the battlefield naming different colours (which meant that the face-dwn card was a multicoloured object). The only cards which could retrieve face-down RFG cards were Death Wish, and possibly the Ring of Ma'Ruf - although I have a nagging feeling there was a problem with the latter.)

It doesn't matter if the player casting the Repetition can look at the card or not either. The mere fact that it is face-down placed it outside the reach of Wishes.

Personally I think the ruling on Runic Repetition makes sense because the effect is targeted, and therefore all players must be able to check the targeting criteria at the time of casting, something the players can't do if the card is face-down. While it might seem reasonable to allow the Hideaway lands effect to be an exception, the problem there is that the exception only applies if all players iin the game have at some point controlled the game object hiding the card to be targeted, and that is not a foregone conclusion. It's probably easier just to ban the action. Another alternative would be to amend the rules on the Hideaway keyword so that only the current controller of the land can look at the exiled card, which would remove the exception.
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Thanks Merestil_Haye, that precedent regarding Wishes is very helpful here.
However, while I can accept those rulings as precedent, we do have to admit that those specific rulings really have NO justification in the current Comp Rules (possibly because those rulings are based on older versions of the Comp Rules before the Exile zone even existed). Especially the 2x Painter's Servant + Glittering Wish issue. If there was a card that targetted a multicolored exiled card today, it 100% should be able to target a face-down exiled card if 2x Painters Servant is out.

I suppose the Hideaway Land issue is the only unresolved issue that seems to not make sense with the current comp rules at all. However, I'll admit that the likelihood of a Hideaway land grabbing a Flashback Card, then being controlled by each player, then targetting that card with Runic Repetition... that's not extremely likely to happen lol.


Overall, however, I do think there are TWO things that need to be fixed:

1) It would be helpful to have a rule that states something to the effect of "When choosing targets, all players must be able to verify the legality of the target (with regard to targetting restrictions) in order for the object to be chosen as a target"; and

2) The gatherer ruling on Runic Repetition needs to be changed. It is flat-out incorrect, and taking it to be true leads to WAY too many rules confusions. I realize that Gatherer rulings are not always accurate based on changing comp rules, but with the entry being so recent (9/2011), it is very likely that people will assume that is an accurate conclusion of the comp rules on the topic, which it is not. In the MTG Salvation thread that DecDoom referred to above, even Natedogg commented "It's face down, so it doesn't have flashback (even if it has flashback when it's not face down)," which is an incorrect statement likely based on that gatherer ruling.  Some clarification APPEARS to be needed. I'd imagine that if you asked 100 judges "do face-down exiled cards have characteristics or abilities?" I'm willing to bet you'd get somewhere near 50% of judges answering "yes" and 50% answering "no".
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