Unicorns in the Rules

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I opened this thread because I was interested in talking about things which Magic players (of all skill levels) refer to all the time, but which--strictly speaking--don't actually exist in the rules. In my mind, the two best known (and, possibly, only) examples are "land drops" and "instant speed". Specifically, I want to discuss the merits of changing the rules to incorporate these concepts--probably not by name, but at least in such a way so that a player who is less familiar with the Comp. Rules than we are can go "Oh! This is the 'land drop' rule."

I do already know that working "instant speed" in is basically a non-starter: the timing rules can get pretty wonky without a whole lot going on in the game, so this would either require rewriting the rules from the ground up or breaking/functionally changing several thousand cards. Probably both.

As for "land drops", I already know that concept can support both the "dollar model" (effects that grant additional drops add a "dollar" to your wallet; you can spend your dollars in whatever order you choose; loosing access to an effect only causes that specific dollar to disappear from your wallet), which is how I believe the rules currently work and the "aggregate model" (effects that grant additional drops add to the total number of drops you are allowed that turn; you are allowed to play a land if and only if the total number of lands you have played this turn is less than your running total of land drops).

Also, are there other examples of this kind of thing? I am kind of hoping that the "land drop" isn't the only one which might actually be amenable to incorporation into the rules.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

THere are alot of other misconceptions that people think are rules, Summoing sickness is one alot of people think is a "thing" when it isn't.

Sorcery speed/instant speed is a non-starter. It would be confusing to have spells and abilities have different amount of time before ressolving. Also there would probably be situations where two spells and/or abiliities would ressolve at the same time.

Land drops are one of those things that come up from time to time, and I agree. The current rules are a bit wonky when it comes to land drops, and i think most players think of land drops as a thing. Unfortuantely there are a few cards that don't work well with land drops as a thing. (Gaea's Touch for example)

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Generally, i think the rules should conform with player's expectations. Some are unworkable (Speeds in magic don't really make sense), but others like land drops would probably help players alot.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I'm not really sure if Gea's Touch is a good Argument - Jandor's Ring does not work really within the Rules as well, and I bet it used way more often.

"Land Drops" are a good idea - we could finally figure out how it really works (how does it work? I have actually no idea).

"Summoning Sickness" already more or less exists:

302.6. A creature's activated ability with the tap symbol or the untap symbol in its activation cost can't be activated unless the creature has been under its controller's control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. A creature can't attack unless it has been under its controller's control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. This rule is informally called the "summoning sickness" rule.
[c]Forest[/c] gives you Forest
DocDoom raises a good point: the way the rules are currently worded makes multiple additional land drops more difficult for players to understand than necessary. At minimum, I'd like to see 305.2 (which governs the number of lands a player is allowed to play) expanded into three parts: a sentence which specifies that normally only a single land drop is allowed, a sentence which acknowledges the existence of effects that add land drops and specifies that players are required to associate each played land explicitly with an effect or rule which allows them to play that land and finally a third sentence that states that using any particular land drop has no effect on your ability to use other land drops you may still have. Also I hate how that rule is currently worded.

EDIT: Also, I'd like to mention that my motivation here is expanding available design and templating technology. It's hard to make cards which refer to things which the rule don't recognize. 

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

I really don't understand what you're suggesting for "instant speed".  Do you just mean that, instead of the lengthy "any time you could cast an instant", it should say "at instant speed"?  If so, the term "speed" is misleading, though something like "with instant timing" could work.  If you actually do mean having different "speeds" of abilities and such, I can't even imagine what that could mean.

As for "land drops", that's been brought up before.  It's true that the current system is odd.  However, I'm not sure if keeping a total land drops variable would actually make it less odd.  If someone controls a Oracle of Mul Daya, plays two lands, somehow loses the Oracle, then casts Explore, should they be able to play an additional land?  I don't think there is an obvious "intuitive" answer to that.
I wasn't necessarily suggesting anything. I was simpling referencing players who talk about casting things "at instant speed" despite there being no such thing. I am fully aware that incorporating that terminology is a practical impossibility.

As for land drops, I'm less concerned with making the rule more intuitive than I am with trying to incorporating the idea of a "land drop" as an actual thing in the rules. I feel that by incorporating the concept into the rules, the wording of the rule and how it applies to game states will be clearer and also easier to change if way down the road we alter how "additional land drop" effects actually work.

EDIT: In other words, I feel that the rule is hard to parse, not unintuitive.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

As for "land drops", that's been brought up before. It's true that the current system is odd. However, I'm not sure if keeping a total land drops variable would actually make it less odd. If someone controls a Oracle of Mul Daya, plays two lands, somehow loses the Oracle, then casts Explore, should they be able to play an additional land? I don't think there is an obvious "intuitive" answer to that.

Players always want to get the most value out of their cards. I think most players would say that they get to play a third land. In that situation, I think the rules line up with expectation.
"Summoning Sickness" already more or less exists:

302.6. A creature's activated ability with the tap symbol or the untap symbol in its activation cost can't be activated unless the creature has been under its controller's control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. A creature can't attack unless it has been under its controller's control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. This rule is informally called the "summoning sickness" rule.



Alot of lpayers think summoning sickness is something a creature has, i.e. some akin to Trample. Whereas the rules are actually what tells a creature if it can or can't attack.

This is a major difference between how the rules actually wrok and how players think the rules work. IN the end it isn't important since 99% of the time you'll get the same result. But Summoning sickness is a part of the game that players think works one way, but doesn't.
… and then, the squirrels came.

Alot of lpayers [sic] think summoning sickness is something a creature has, i.e. some akin to Trample.



Interesting. I've never encountered that before.

Which isn't to say that I disbelieve you, of course. Magic players sometimes believe all sorts of crazy things.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman


Alot of lpayers [sic] think summoning sickness is something a creature has, i.e. some akin to Trample.



Interesting. I've never encountered that before.

Which isn't to say that I disbelieve you, of course. Magic players sometimes believe all sorts of crazy things.




I started out thinking that, and everyone in my playgroup as well. We often have that question in the rules Q&A forum.

It doesn't come up very often because if you treat "summoning sickness" as an ability like Trample or Reach that lasts for a short duration you pretty much end up with the exact same conclusion then if you understand how Summoning sickness actually works.

But because  the common termonology is "That creature has summoning sickness" people tend to treat it in the same manner as "That creature has trample".

… and then, the squirrels came.
You kind of treat it like haste in a way, it matters when you play it, and then not any more



As for weird things you believe, a lot of my play group when I first started thought that if your creature has double strike and kills its blocker with the first damage it would hit the player with the second round.
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As for weird things you believe, a lot of my play group when I first started thought that if your creature has double strike and kills its blocker with the first damage it would hit the player with the second round.



I definitely see where players get this idea, even though it's wrong.

 But because  the common termonology is "That creature has summoning sickness" people tend to treat it in the same manner as "That creature has trample".



Ah. I never encountered the "summoning sickness" terminology until well after I'd learned how to play; I basically self-taught myself from a 7th Edition Starter Set.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

Here are some that I hear frequently:

"sacrifice is faster than anything else" (what they mean is, payment of costs cant be responded to, and once a creature is dead it's too late to kill it)

"that doesnt have summoning sickness because it is an artifact" (when what they mean is, it isnt affected by summoning sickness because it isnt a creature)

"in response to ..." (when often what they mean is "after you do that" (in the case of things that cannot be responded to, like declaring blockers, or "before you do that" (in the case of things that tap down creatures that their opponents want to attack with etc) - I even heard "in response to your Planeswalker entering the battlefield..." the other day).

"I will attack you then redirect the combat damage to your Planeswalker" (when what they mean is that they are attacking the Planeswalker rather than attacking you)

People also seem to want to treat activated abilities like they are triggered abilities (like two Bloodthrone Vampires getting boosted by the sacrifice of a sinlge creature to Geth's Verdict).

~ Tim 
   
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)

People also seem to want to treat activated abilities like they are triggered abilities (like two Bloodthrone Vampires getting boosted by the sacrifice of a sinlge creature to Geth's Verdict).


This is mot prevalent with sacrifice. They don't try to have a single to pay for two firebreathings.


On the other hand, many just use the wrong verb. "My Perilous Myr died, activating its effect" or "I sacrifice a creature to trigger Bloodthrone Vampire's bonus", without making any real mistake.

[<o>]
I think that these issues should be printed on those rules cards you get in packs.
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I think that these issues should be printed on those rules cards you get in packs.



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People also seem to want to treat activated abilities like they are triggered abilities (like two Bloodthrone Vampires getting boosted by the sacrifice of a sinlge creature to Geth's Verdict).


This is mot prevalent with sacrifice. They don't try to have a single to pay for two firebreathings.



Seems to also happen with tap effects ("If I attack with my Llanowar Elves, do I get any mana?")

~ Tim 
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
Maybe have the tips and trick inserts direct to the website for more details on things?
I am Red/Black
I am Red/Black
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both selfish and chaotic. I value self-gratification and control; I want to have things my way, preferably now. At best, I'm entertaining and surprising; at worst, I'm hedonistic and violent.
Maybe have the tips and trick inserts direct to the website for more details on things?
I am Red/Black
I am Red/Black
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both selfish and chaotic. I value self-gratification and control; I want to have things my way, preferably now. At best, I'm entertaining and surprising; at worst, I'm hedonistic and violent.
Maybe have the tips and trick inserts direct to the website for more details on things?



They already do.

Del Laugel

Editing manager, Magic TCG